What We Do

With consideration given to the entire range of habitat needs for waterfowl, Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge is designed and managed to provide the maximum benefit for these migratory birds.  To provide more for wildlife, FWS staff uses a variety of carefully chosen habitat management techniques to maintain, recover, or enhance habitat. Management practices are used to mimic and/or enhance natural processes, such as flooding and fire. Techniques, such as water level manipulation, mowing and burning, are used on the refuge. Battling the spread of invasive plants is never ending, and we use a variety of techniques to combat weeds.

In late spring (May-June), water levels throughout the refuge recede due to evaporation. This develops a productive wetland habitat that best benefits migratory and wintering waterfowl and other wildlife by allowing germination of seed-bearing plants for food and cover along the receding water line.

Prescribed burning is used in a variety of ways on Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge to keep open water areas from closing in and to clear areas in preparation for habitat restoration. In uplands, fire invigorates grass nesting cover for waterfowl and other ground nesting birds. It also reduces brush and weed species, increases the amount of grasses and forbs, and creates green browse for migratory geese in both spring and fall.

Mowing, disking, seeding and the transplanting of native vegetation are additional management techniques used to make the refuge more attractive to migrating birds and resident wildlife.

A large portion of Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge wetlands have been restored to increase and enhance wetland resources. This multi-year effort required recontouring of wetland basins. Land contouring restores the habitat to mimic natural, historic conditions, handle flood flows and have as much habitat edge and diversity as possible. This many-phased restoration project is ongoing, and you may see equipment in the wetlands as we continue to enhance our wetlands.