Wildlife Habitat

Soils affect the kind and amount of vegetation that is available to wildlife as food and cover. They also affect the construction of water impoundments. The kind and abundance of wildlife depend largely on the amount and distribution of food, cover, and water. Wildlife habitat can be created or improved by planting appropriate vegetation, by maintaining the existing plant cover, or by promoting the natural establishment of desirable plants.

In table F, the soils in the survey area are rated according to their potential for providing habitat for various kinds of wildlife. This information can be used in planning parks, wildlife refuges, nature study areas, and other developments for wildlife; in selecting soils that are suitable for establishing, improving, or maintaining specific elements of wildlife habitat; and in determining the intensity of management needed for each element of the habitat.

The potential of the soil is rated good, fair, poor, or very poor. A rating of good indicates that the element or kind of habitat is easily established, improved, or maintained. Few or no limitations affect management, and satisfactory results can be expected. A rating of fair indicates that the element or kind of habitat can be established, improved, or maintained in most places. Moderately intensive management is required for satisfactory results. A rating of poor indicates that limitations are severe for the designated element or kind of habitat. Habitat can be created, improved, or maintained in most places, but management is difficult and must be intensive. A rating of very poor indicates that restrictions for the element or kind of habitat are very severe and that unsatisfactory results can be expected. Creating, improving, or maintaining habitat is impractical or impossible.

The elements of wildlife habitat are described in the following paragraphs.

Grain and seed crops are domestic grains and seed-producing herbaceous plants. Soil properties and features that affect the growth of grain and seed crops are depth of the root zone, texture of the surface layer, available water capacity, wetness, slope, surface stoniness, and flooding. Soil temperature and soil moisture also are considerations. Examples of grain and seed crops are corn, wheat, oats, and barley.

Grasses and legumes are domestic perennial grasses and herbaceous legumes. Soil properties and features that affect the growth of grasses and legumes are depth of the root zone, texture of the surface layer, available water capacity, wetness, surface stoniness, flooding, and slope. Soil temperature and soil moisture also are considerations. Examples of grasses and legumes are fescue, lovegrass, bromegrass, clover, and alfalfa.

Wild herbaceous plants are native or naturally established grasses and forbs, including weeds. Soil properties and features that affect the growth of these plants are depth of the root zone, texture of the surface layer, available water capacity, wetness, surface stoniness, and flooding. Soil temperature and soil moisture also are considerations. Examples of wild herbaceous plants are bluestem, goldenrod, beggarweed, wheatgrass, and grama.

Hardwood trees and woody understory produce nuts or other fruit, buds, catkins, twigs, bark, and foliage. Soil properties and features that affect the growth of hardwood trees and shrubs are depth of the root zone, available water capacity, and wetness. Examples of these plants are oak, poplar, cherry, sweetgum, apple, hawthorn, dogwood, hickory, blackberry, and blueberry. Examples of fruit-producing shrubs that are suitable for planting on soils rated good are Russian-olive, autumn-olive, and crabapple.

Coniferous plants furnish browse and seeds. Soil properties and features that affect the growth of coniferous trees, shrubs, and ground cover are depth of the root zone, available water capacity, and wetness. Examples of coniferous plants are pine, spruce, fir, cedar, and juniper.

Shrubs are bushy woody plants that produce fruit, buds, twigs, bark, and foliage. Soil properties and features that affect the growth of shrubs are depth of the root zone, available water capacity, salinity, and soil moisture. Examples of shrubs are mountainmahogany, bitterbrush, snowberry, and big sagebrush.

Wetland plants are annual and perennial wild herbaceous plants that grow on moist or wet sites. Submerged or floating aquatic plants are excluded. Soil properties and features affecting wetland plants are texture of the surface layer, wetness, reaction, salinity, slope, and surface stoniness. Examples of wetland plants are smartweed, wild millet, wildrice, saltgrass, cordgrass, rushes, sedges, and reeds.

Shallow water areas have an average depth of less than 5 feet. Some are naturally wet areas. Others are created by dams, levees, or other water-control structures. Soil properties and features affecting shallow water areas are depth to bedrock, wetness, surface stoniness, slope, and permeability. Examples of shallow water areas are marshes, waterfowl feeding areas, and ponds.

The habitat for various kinds of wildlife is described in the following paragraphs.

Habitat for openland wildlife consists of cropland, pasture, meadows, and areas that are overgrown with grasses, herbs, shrubs, and vines. These areas produce grain and seed crops, grasses and legumes, and wild herbaceous plants. Wildlife attracted to these areas include bobwhite quail, pheasant, meadowlark, field sparrow, cottontail, and red fox.

Habitat for woodland wildlife consists of areas of deciduous and/or coniferous plants and associated grasses, legumes, and wild herbaceous plants. Wildlife attracted to these areas include wild turkey, ruffed grouse, woodcock, thrushes, woodpeckers, squirrels, gray fox, raccoon, deer, and bear.

Habitat for wetland wildlife consists of open, marshy or swampy shallow water areas. Some of the wildlife attracted to such areas are ducks, geese, herons, shore birds, muskrat, mink, and beaver.

Habitat for rangeland wildlife consists of areas of shrubs and wild herbaceous plants. Wildlife attracted to rangeland include antelope, deer, sage grouse, meadowlark, and lark bunting.