Moist-soil research and the development of management techniques has been an expanding process since the early 1900's in the United States. While most
of us view moist-soil management primarily from the perspective of improving habitat for waterfowl and being able to attract and hold ducks, the overall
conservation impact is much broader.
The science of managing moist-soil units has increased dramatically as it has become a major piece of the conservation puzzle. Soil disturbance, water
management with its variables of flooding timing, rate, and duration, and then subsequent drawn-downs (and again with its timing, rate, and duration)
are just a few of the components of properly managing moist-soil wetlands for optimum plant growth, wildlife habitat, and food sources.
WRP land and other types of wetland habitat require land owners and managers to learn some of the required science if they desire to make the most of the
wetland habitat. In addition to the hard and fast science, there are also the nuances and "exceptions to the rules" that are as valid as the science.
These subtle shifts from the printed facts can only be learned, in my opinion and experience, by trial and error and observation as each land manager
applies the science to his particular locale. So, if you you are having a cuckleburr problem, should you begin a draw-down in late April or mid-May
in your area? The facts will give you a general guide...but your trial and error and paying attention to what works...and when...will be where you
will become a better manager.
I have used a specific guide to help me make my way through the mountain of information - both formal and anecdotal - related to managing moist-soil units
where I live in North Louisiana. Everyone has an opinion about what you should do and when and how you should do it. I needed a little more specifics
to help me cut through the clutter.
I have a well-worn copy of "A Guide to Moist Soil Wetland Plants of the Mississippi Alluvial Valley" on shelf in my office. It is an excellent resource to add to your library of information about managing wildlife habitat - especially moist-soil units.
I have also used "Moist Soil Management Guidelines" by the US Fish & Wildlife Service
- Southeast Region.
Whatever you choose to do to manage your moist-soil units, I recommend that you be proactive. The year gets away from us fast, and we only have certain
windows of time to do the things that make the biggest impact. And be consistent. Year after year, you'll learn and improve on your plans, so stick
to it to get the cumulative results of your hard work and dedication. You'll reap the rewards and have the satisfaction of knowing that you are
leaving the place in better condition than you found it. The next generation of hunters and landowners deserve no less from us.
- Pat Porter