Characterization of Water-Resource Threats and Needs for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuges in the Legacy Mountain-Prairie Region, 2020

Open-File Report 2021-1007
Prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
By: , and 

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Abstract

The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), began a study in 2019 to complete the compilation and quality assurance of water-resource threats and needs data for the 117 National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs) in the FWS Legacy Mountain-Prairie Region (LMPR) and to characterize the water-resource threats and needs of each refuge and of the LMPR itself. The LMPR encompasses the states of Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. This report includes the compilation and quality assurance of current (April 2020) water-resource threats and needs data for the refuges in the LMPR and a statistical, graphical, and spatial characterization, including the ranking and prioritization of threat types, threat causes, and needs by the number of occurrences in the LMPR as a whole and by refuges, states, and select U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Level III Ecoregions.

A total of 540 unique threat occurrences were identified for 109 refuges in the LMPR. No threats were identified for eight refuges. About 43 percent of the threat occurrences, for 59 refuges, had a high-severity threat rating. Of the 10 most common threat types, 8 were also among the most common high-severity threat types. Water-resource threats had 72 different causes. About 83 percent of the overall common causes for threats and for high-severity threats were the same. The most common threat types overall and the most common high-severity threat types were compromised water management capability, habitat shifting/alteration, and altered flow regimes. The 20 water-resource threat types for Long Lake NWR were the most for refuges in the LMPR. Other refuges with the greatest number of threat types included Marais des Cygnes NWR (18) and Arapaho and Lee Metcalf NWRs (16 each). About 54 percent of refuges with threats had high-severity threats. Arapaho and Quivira NWRs each had 10 high-severity threat types, the maximum number of high-severity threat types for LMPR refuges.

A total of 637 unique need occurrences were identified for 114 refuges. No needs were reported for three refuges. The most common need type, a Water Resource Inventory and Assessment, was reported for 78 refuges. Two of the most common need types, repair and replace water management infrastructure and water supply/quantity monitoring, were the most common high-priority need types. Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge had the most (39) unique water-resource need types for refuges in the LMPR. Other refuges with the greatest number of need types were Baca (38), Alamosa (36), and Monte Vista (36) NWRs. The most high-priority need types for a refuge was 23, at Monte Vista NWR. Alamosa (22), Baca (22), and Lake Andes (19) NWRs were also among the top 4 refuges with the greatest number of high-priority need types.

An overall ranking scheme was developed to identify refuges that have the highest-ranking priority for conservation efforts to fulfill refuges’ statutory purposes. The count of occurrences of high-severity threats and high-priority needs were summed to determine the overall ranking value for a refuge. The 10 refuges with the highest overall ranking values, in order of ranking from higher to lower, were Alamosa, Baca, and Monte Vista NWRs (tied for highest); Lake Andes NWR, Ouray and Quivira NWRs, Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and Flint Hills NWR, Cokeville Meadows NWR, and Arapaho NWR.

About 33 percent of overall threat occurrences were reported as under the control of the FWS to mitigate, as were 37 percent of all threat occurrences with a high-severity rating. The most common overall threat types and high-severity threat types under FWS control were compromised water management capability; habitat shifting/alteration; altered flow regimes; loss/alteration of wetland habitat; and legal challenges or fines for non-compliance with water policy, law, or regulation. A total of 68 percent of overall need occurrences and 67 percent of all high-priority need occurrences were under the control of the FWS. The most common overall need types and high-priority needs types under control were repair or replace water management infrastructure, water supply/quantity monitoring, water quality baseline monitoring, and protect habitat from invasive species. A Water Resource Inventory and Assessment was also a common overall need under FWS control, as was the high-priority need of water level monitoring.

Suggested Citation

Bauch, N.J., Kohn, M.S., and Caruso, B.S., 2021, Characterization of water-resource threats and needs for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuges in the Legacy Mountain-Prairie Region, 2020: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2021–1007, 46 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20211007.

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Characterization of water-resource threats and needs for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuges in the Legacy Mountain-Prairie Region, 2020
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2021-1007
DOI 10.3133/ofr20211007
Year Published 2021
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston VA
Contributing office(s) Colorado Water Science Center
Description viii, 46 p.
Country United States
State Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming
Other Geospatial Legacy Mountain Prairie Region
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details