What We Do

To help plants and wildlife, refuge staff uses a variety of habitat management techniques to maintain, recover or enhance plant and wildlife values. Refuge staff carefully considers any management techniques and employ them in varying degrees according to the situation. 

Water levels are carefully monitored and controlled to foster desired plant growth. Sometimes, sensitive areas are closed to the public so that the land can recover more quickly. Prescribed burning, mowing, experimental bio-control insect releases, and seeding are also some of the techniques used to help native plants recover on national wildlife refuges. Standardized ground and aerial wildlife surveys and vegetation surveys are conducted on some refuges throughout the year to inventory populations and document habitat use. Units are evaluated by how well they met habitat and wildlife use objectives. The following links provide further information on how Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex uses different techniques to manage refuge lands. 

Fire Management at Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex

Management and Conservation

The Klamath Marsh Refuge wetlands are primarily wet meadows with some open water wetlands. This natural plant community is maintained by a program of cattle grazing, haying and prescribed fire. Haying and burning of native grasses is used as a management technique to create fall and spring feeding habitat for waterfowl and sandhill cranes. Waterfowl use is monitored aerially during the fall and spring.

Waterfowl production is monitored in the spring, with mallard, cinnamon teal, redhead, scaup, gadwall, ringneck duck, and Canada geese being the main nesting species. In addition, the nesting sandhill crane population averages 50-60 pair.

Yellow rails and Oregon Spotted Frogs, which are species of special concern, are also surveyed annually. This refuge has a rich cultural heritage, as it includes part of the historic lands used by the Klamath Tribes. Consultation with the Klamath Tribes on refuge management activities is a regular activity. 

Refuge Planning 

National Wildlife Refuge planning sets the broad vision for refuge management and the goals, objectives, strategies, and actions required to achieve it. Planning ensures that each refuge meets its individual purposes, contributes to the Refuge System’s mission and priorities, is consistent with other applicable laws and policies, and enhances conservation benefits beyond refuge boundaries. 

Comprehensive Conservation Plans 

Comprehensive Conservation Plans (CCPs) are the primary planning documents for National Wildlife Refuges. As outlined in the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act, as amended, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is required to develop CCPs that guide refuge management for the next 15 years. CCPs articulate the Service’s contributions to meeting refuge purposes and the National Wildlife Refuge System mission. CCPs serve as a bridge between broad, landscape-level plans developed by other agencies and stakeholders and the more detailed step-downs that stem from Refuge CCPs.  

The 2010 Final Comprehensive Conservation Plan for Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuge can be found here: https://ecos.fws.gov/ServCat/Reference/Profile/20257 

Step-down Plans 

CCP step-down plans guide refuge-level programs for: (1) conserving natural resources (e.g., fish, wildlife, plants, and the ecosystems they depend on for habitat); (2) stewarding other special values of the refuge (e.g., cultural or archeological resources, wilderness, wild and scenic rivers, etc.); and (3) engaging visitors and the community in conservation, including providing opportunities for wildlife-dependent recreation. Like CCPs, step-down plans contribute to the implementation of relevant landscape plans by developing SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) objectives, strategies, implementation schedules, and decision support tools to fulfill refuge visions and goals. This ensures that refuges are managed in a landscape context and that conservation benefits extend beyond refuge boundaries.  

Our Projects and Research

Oregon Spotted Frog

This species begins to breed at three years of age. Breeding occurs in February or March at lower elevations and in late May or early June at higher elevations.

Females may deposit egg masses at the same location in successive years in shallow, often temporary, pools no more than six inches deep. Eggs usually hatch within three weeks after. Tadpoles are grazers, having rough tooth rows for scraping plant surfaces and ingesting plant tissue and bacteria. 

Many factors are believed to have caused Oregon spotted frogs to decline and continue to threaten this species, including loss of habitat, non-native plant invasions, and the introduction of exotic predators such as bullfrogs. Over 95 percent of historic marsh habitat, and consequently Oregon spotted frog habitat, has been lost in the Willamette and Klamath basins.

Efforts are being made to eliminate and to prevent future introductions of bullfrogs and warm-water game fish from spotted frog habitat. Active management is also required to control non-native plant species like reed canarygrass. Protecting Oregon spotted frog populations through maintaining healthy aquatic habitats will continue to be the key objective of land managers.