U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces draw down of north pool at Lake Chautauqua

July 21, 2011 at 10:28 PM

From the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:

The North Pool of Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge near Havana will be drawn down in late July to create improved habitat for migratory birds including shorebirds and waterfowl.

The North Pool Boat Ramp has been closed in preparation for the draw-down. However the North Pool unit remains open to the public for wildlife observation and photography.

The South Pool Boat Ramp remains open and the South Pool will remain accessible by boat for fishing until the waterfowl sanctuary period begins on Oct. 16.

Drawing down water levels creates mudflats, important for shorebirds, and also moist soil conditions that stimulates plant growth.

These plants mature and produce seeds and also provide a substrate for invertebrates.

These plants, seeds and invertebrates are important food sources for migrating birds that have traditionally used floodplain wetlands along the Illinois River corridor.

Historically, these floodplain wetlands filled with water during spring flooding and would later drawdown naturally through the summer months as the flood waters receded.

The goal of refuge management is to mimic those historic patterns.

Management of the pools is now more difficult because of the higher water levels maintained in the Illinois River for navigation combined with the severe flooding over the past four years.

The refuge was established in 1936 by an executive order with the specific purpose of serving as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife.

Under the Migratory Bird Conservation Act, the purpose of Chautauqua Refuge is to provide sanctuary and be managed for migratory birds.