National Wildlife Refuges

Region 6
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Region 6 includes Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, and North Dakota refuges.

Mount Massive Wilderness Area - (CO)
Leadville National Fish Hatchery

This 2,560-acre area is located within the Leadville National Fish Hatchery in central Colorado. It consists of part of the greater Mount Massive Wilderness Area containing 28,047 acres in the Leadville Ranger District of the San Isabel National Forest. The habitat consists of lodgepole pine, spruce, and fir forest with small mountain streams, willow, and grass riparian habitat. The terrain is rugged, pristine mountain forest ranging in elevation from 10,000 to above timberline tundra peaks over 14,000 feet. Unique wildlife includes the green-back cutthroat trout in the Rock Creek drainage, along with typical forest species such as elk, deer, squirrels, grouse, ptarmigan, marmots, pika, skunks, coyotes, bobcats, and bear. Permitted activities include hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, skiing, etc. No motorized or mechanized vehicles and equipment are permitted.

UL Bend Wilderness Area - (MT)
Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge

This 20,893-acre area, located within the UL Bend National Wildlife Refuge, borders a hairpin turn in the Missouri River. Vegetation is sagebrush-grassland interspersed with juniper and chokeberry draws. Wildlife is typical of the area and includes prairie passerines and raptors, mule deer, elk, and sharp-tailed and sage grouse.

Medicine Lake Wilderness Area - (MT)
Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge

The 11,366-acre wilderness area is located within the Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern Montana. The habitat consists of the entire water body of Medicine Lake (8,344 acres), including several natural islands (702 acres) and the 2,320-acre southern portion of the refuge known as the Sandhills Unit. The islands range from 367 acres to less than an acre in size. They are vegetated with native mixed grass prairie and brush. The Sandhills Unit has gently rolling topography and very sandy soils, which produce sand dunes that have vegetated over time with native mixed grass prairie.

Red Rock Lakes Wilderness - (MT)
Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge

This 32,350-acre wilderness is located within the 44,157-acre Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Montana. The wilderness area was designated on October 19, 1976. The habitat consists of a vast shallow lake/marsh complex that includes the Upper and Lower Red Rock Lakes and the Red Rock River Marsh, along with subirrigated meadows, sagebrush grasslands, and coniferous forests. Unique wildlife includes trumpeter swans, peregrine falcons, bald eagles, Shiras moose, elk, and Arctic grayling. Allowed uses include hiking, canoeing, camping, fishing, and hunting of waterfowl, elk, moose, deer, and antelope. Five permittees graze cattle on the area for a total of 5,000-6,000 AUMs annually.

Fort Niobrara Wilderness Area - (NE)
Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge

This 4,635-acre area is located within the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge in north central Nebraska. The south end of the wilderness area is bordered by the Niobrara River (designated Wild and Scenic, 1991). High benchland capped by sandy soil rises abruptly from the narrow river valley an average of 200 feet on both sides. Five of the six deep canyons that divide the tableland to the north carry spring water to the river continually. Three major vegetative types are found in the wilderness area: hardwoods, conifers, and grasslands. The hardwoods are found along the Niobrara River and canyon bottoms and consist of burr oak, green ash, American elm, cottonwood, ironwood, and willow. The presence of white birch is unique as it occurs only in the Niobrara River valley in Nebraska and is considered a relic. The conifer community is represented by Eastern red cedar and ponderosa pine. The cedars occur in association with the hardwoods and have become established along the canyon banks, in the canyon valleys, and along parts of the river bottom. Ponderosa pine occurs sporadically along the river and in the canyons. A relatively dense stand of ponderosa pine, approximately 200 acres in size, was established as a Research Natural Area (Type K 237, Interior Ponderosa Pine) in 1960.

The grassland plant community is dominated by sand bluestem, prairie sandreed, sand lovegrass, switchgrass, little bluestem, needle and thread, blue grama, hairy grama, sideoats grama, and sand dropseed. Several prairie forbs including yucca, spiderwort, tumble mustard, goldenrod, prairie coneflower, and prairie sunflower are present. Brush species common to the area include wild prairie rose, wild plum, sand cherry, chokecherry, western snowberry, wild raspberry, current, wild grape, and leadplant. A variety of fauna representative of historic diversity inhabit the wilderness area year-round or seasonally, including bison, elk, bald eagle, turkey vulture, grasshopper sparrow, prairie rattlesnake, and northern leopard frog. Seventeen distinct fossil sites have been excavated in the wilderness area. Two fossil beds of the lower Pliocene and upper Miocene epochs provided non-articulated skeletons and bone fragments of more than 20 extinct animal species. Most of the sites have reverted back to a natural state and exhibit little or no evidence of an unnatural disturbance.

Allowed uses of the wilderness area include fenced animal grazing, vehicle travel necessary to aid in the spring roundup of bison or to maintain boundary fences, and hiking, horseback riding, canoeing, tubing, and wildlife observation.

Chase Lake Wilderness Area - (ND)
Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge

This 4,155-acre area is located within the 4,385-acre Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1908 in east central North Dakota. The wilderness area consists of 2,053 acres of Chase Lake proper. The remaining habitat is dominated by native prairie, including blue grama, little bluestem, green needlegrass, needle-and-thread and tame grasses, including smooth brome, crested wheatgrass, alfalfa, and sweetclover. Unique wildlife species include one of the largest nesting colonies of white pelicans in North America. They nest on the two natural islands of Chase Lake and number upwards of 12,000 birds. The endangered piping plover also nests along the shores of Chase Lake. Unique plants to the area include yellow lady slipper and tufted milk vetch. Allowed uses include hiking, wildlife observation, and deer hunting during both archery and gun seasons.

Lostwood Wilderness Area - (ND)
Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge

This 5,577-acre area, located on Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge in northwest North Dakota, is in the northern Great Plains. It is found on the Missouri du Coteau, a terminal moraine created by the Wisconsin Glacier with over 30 percent virgin northern mixed-grass prairie flora. The diverse needle and wheat grass community, combined with more than the 750 wetlands, produces a diversity of indigenous species such as Baird's sparrow, Sprague's pipit, pintail, lesser scaup, upland sandpiper, marbled godwit, Swainson's hawk, northern harrier, prairie lily, and blazing star.

Common native grass species include needle-and-thread, blue grama, and western wheatgrass; brush species are dominated by western snowberry, prairie rose, and greasewood. Few trees exist but do include green ash, poplar, and cottonwood; prickly pear cactus is also common in the Wilderness Area. Wildlife species include all waterfowl common to the northern prairie, a large white pelican colony of 4000+ adults, Bairds's and Laconte's sparrows, and the largest nesting population of piping plover in Monatana. Common mammals are white-tailed deer, coyote, raccoon, and Richardson's ground squirrel.

Allowed uses in the wilderness area include hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, and livestock grazing.

Source: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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