Date of this Version
This report represents an initial biological assessment of wetland conditions on Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), Slade NWR, and Florence Lake NWR that was conducted as part of the pre-planning phase for development of a Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP). According to the 1997 National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act (NWRSIA), decisions guiding NWR management should be based on the best available scientific information. Therefore, this report attempts to integrate relevant information from many different scientific disciplines (e.g., geology, hydrology, biology) to assist the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in identifying ecological constraints and opportunities imposed by the land base being considered. The intent is to provide information and ideas necessary for evaluating the potential benefits and detriments of management actions during the decision making process that accompanies development of biological goals and objectives.
Information in this report is based on a relatively limited number of published articles, past notes, and observations during a visit to Long Lake, Florence Lake, and Slade NWRs. The authors only attempted to locate sufficient relevant information necessary to formulate more definitive ideas and provide additional context. Thus, the information provided below is incomplete and a more thorough synthesis will be required. Further, interpretation of published information can vary among individuals, and the Long Lake NWR Complex (hereafter Complex) staff is encouraged to review the documents cited in this report. Many years of staff observation and experience managing the Complex are invaluable to ensuring that information used to make decisions is applicable. Consequently, some sections contain information that was not fully explored in the evaluation section; however, the information was retained because it may be useful as the Complex staff and core CCP team examine different management options. Finally, decisions regarding management of the wetland community also require integrating information from terrestrial lands that impact wetlands (i.e. catchment). Although this may seem simple and straightforward, this task often is difficult because it frequently requires an iterative approach to ensure that important issues that may affect management of both wetlands and uplands have not been omitted.
This report does not contain conclusions, nor does it advocate any opinions (favorable or unfavorable) regarding the biological program. Further, concepts such as alternatives, goals, and objectives, are not discussed. The core CCP team will address these topics. Rather, it represents a summary that hopefully will be used to focus future discussion regarding biological data needs and approaches for using this information to make decisions. Ultimately, however, scientific information alone will not lead to a definitive decision regarding future direction. Also, biology is only one of many components that must be considered in the evaluation. Therefore, it is recommended that USFWS personnel responsible for determining the future direction of Complex management be consulted to establish guidelines and agree on the approach that will be used in evaluating the biological program prior to proceeding.