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Monday, January 29 • 1:40pm - 2:00pm
SYMPOSIA-04: Using Grazing to Manage Grasslands for Waterfowl and Migratory Bird Production Goals on a 53,000-acre Wetland Management District

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AUTHORS. J.B. Bright, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Morris Wetland Management District

ABSTRACT. Prairies and grasslands are disturbance dependent ecosystems that rely on periodic defoliation to cycle nutrients, maintain plant vigor, and to set back woody vegetation. "Under-disturbed" grasslands are often lost to succession, see decreases in diversity, and are susceptible to invasion by various plant species. Habitat quality is therefore diminished on these sites. Conservation grazing is the use of livestock to defoliate areas to achieve wildlife and vegetation objectives. The Morris Wetland Management District has approximately 35,000 acres of upland habitat, spread out over eight counties, on 247 Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs). Like "prescribed fire" we use prescribed grazing to meet habitat management objectives by targeting certain areas at specific periods of the growing season (i.e., flexible timing and intensity). Grazing has been used on nearly 100 WPAs over the past 17 years on the district. From 2000 to 2010, an average of 1,111 acres and 13 units per year were grazed. With the decline in fire management capacity and increases in grazing infrastructure (fencing and flexible grazing cooperators), those averages have increased to 4,083 acres and 36 WPAs since 2011. During this time, adaptive management has been applied on select units to learn about plant community response to grazing and other management tools. Examples of plant community responses will be shared.

Monday January 29, 2018 1:40pm - 2:00pm CST