Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge
Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge lies in Burke and Mountrail counties about 21 miles north of Stanley along highway 8, or fourteen miles west and a bit south of Kenmare. Established in 1935 the refuge consists of a little under 27,000 acres or 42 square miles of northern mixed grass prairie and somewhere around 4,000 wetlands depending upon water conditions
As you would expect, the refuge supports a wide variety of wildlife species ranging from whitetail deer and muskrats to sharp-tail grouse and mallards. The refuge is perhaps most widely known for its waterfowl, but it is important to other birds as well. For example it is home to some rare species such as the federally threatened piping plover and many grassland bird species of concern such as Sprague’s Pipit and Baird’s and LeConte’s sparrows. Its importance to birds is underscored by its designation as a “Globally Important Bird Area” by the American Bird Conservancy.
If you are interested in birding you may want to consider attending the refuge’s annual “Lostwood Birding Festival.” This year it was held on June 20th and consisted of guided birding tours as well as activities for kids.
Management of this refuge is no small task, and managers use a variety of techniques to enhance or maintain the ecological condition and integrity of the refuge. Management techniques include prescribed grazing as well as prescribed burning. In fact, Lostwood was a pioneer in the use of prescribed burning as a management tool in the northern mixed grass prairie. Those efforts were often directed at reducing the grassland invasion of aspen and shrubs such as western snowberry as well as smooth brome and Kentucky bluegrass, both introduced invasive cool season grasses.
There are lots of good opportunities to enjoy nature here. There is a self-guided auto tour, as well as a nature trail to provide access to the biological diversity of the refuge. Both are open from May through September. There is also a sharp-tailed grouse viewing blind adjacent to one of their dancing grounds that is available to the public from April through May. Give that some consideration for next spring.
Click here to access the 2014 Lostwood Birding Festival webpage.
Natural North Dakota is supported by NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center and Minot State University-Bottineau, and by the members of Prairie Public. Thanks to Sunny 101.9 in Bottineau for their recording services.