Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge
Mountain-Prairie Region

Lake Mason National Wildlife Refuge

Musselshell County, Montana

 

Lake Mason National Wildlife Refuge consists of three separate tracts:  Lake Mason Unit, North Unit, and Willow Creek Unit. 

Lake Mason NWR - Lake Mason Unit

Location:  Located approximately 7 miles northwest of Roundup, Montana.

 

General Information:  The Lake Mason Unit, the southern-most unit of Lake Mason NWR, contains a 1,250 acre ephemeral wetland.  Lake Mason is a natural basin that was enhanced in 1937 by the Works Projects Administration.  When full, the wetland hosts spectacular numbers of waterfowl and shorebirds.  However, a notoriously dry climate generally precludes any water being present beyond July.  Uplands around the lake are predominantly short grass prairie.  Several fields farmed prior to acquisition have been seeded to dense nesting cover for wildlife.

 

Public Use:  The North half of the Lake Mason Unit is closed to all public access in an effort to reduce disturbance to migrating waterfowl in the fall and thereby increase the security and attractiveness of the area for the birds.  The South half of the refuge is open to hunting, hiking, and wildlife observation.  In addition to compliance with all applicable state hunting regulations, non-toxic shot must be used to harvest waterfowl and upland game birds.  See attached map for further instructions.

 

Facilities:  An access trail, parking area, and primitive boat launch (non-motorized boats) site are available on the Lake Mason Unit.

 

Access:  At the north side of Roundup, turn south from Highway 87 on 4th Street West.  Proceed 1 block and turn west on the Golf Course Road.  Continue for 6.5 miles, then turn north and proceed 2 miles to the refuge boundary. 

 

Driving map for Lake Mason NWR - Lake Mason Unit

 

Lake Mason NWR - North Unit

 

Location:  Located approximately 25 miles northwest of Roundup, Montana.

 

General Information:  This unit consists mostly of rolling grasslands interspersed with sage brush and grassland bottoms.  Several small, ephemeral ponds along Jones Creek provide water sources for wildlife and livestock (when grazed to enhance wildlife habitat).  Wildlife commonly observed include long-billed curlews, upland sand pipers, sage grouse, pronghorn antelope, chestnut-collared longspurs, and a variety of raptors.  Elk have been known to travel through the refuge enroute to or from the Little Snowy Mountains to the west.

 

Public Use:  The refuge is open to hunting, hiking, and wildlife observation.  In addition to compliance with all applicable state hunting regulations, non-toxic shot must be used to harvest waterfowl and upland game birds. 

 

Facilities:  An access trail and parking area are provided on the North Unit.

 

Access:  Drive north of Roundup 11 miles on Highway 87, and turn west on the Snowy Mountain Road (also Forest Service access to the Little Snowy Mountains).  After 7 miles, turn north on the Graves Road and continue 7.3 miles, then turn west again on a small, two-track trail.  The refuge lies 2.2 miles west of the Graves Road.  More detailed directions are from Highway 87 turn-off.

 

Driving map for lake Mason NWR - North Unit

 

Lake Mason NWR - Willow Creek Unit

Location:  Located approximately 12 miles northwest of Roundup, Montana.

 

General Information:  This unit is managed for the benefit of mountain plovers, a species of concern within the state.  As such, management objectives include maintaining the short grass community through prescribed burning and grazing, as the mountain plover is attracted to early seral grassland communities.  Other wildlife observed here include pronghorn antelope, burrowing owls, ferruginous hawks, long-billed curlews, black-tailed prairie dogs, and many neotropical migrants adapted to short grass prairie environments.

 

Most of the land in this area was homesteaded during the late 1910’s.  Homesteaders earned their living raising livestock and grain.  The Great Depression of the 1930’s forced most of these people off their land.  During this time, few people could afford to buy more land and ownership reverted back to the government.  A cultural inventory of this unit revealed evidence of prehistoric occupation associated with buffalo hunts.

 

Public Use:  The refuge is open to hunting, hiking, and wildlife observation.  In addition to compliance with all applicable state hunting regulations, non-toxic shot must be used to harvest waterfowl and upland game birds. 

 

Facilities:  No facilities exist on the Willow Creek Unit.

 

Access:  Proceed 11 miles north of Roundup on Highway 87.  Turn west on Snowy Mountain Road (also Forest Service access to the Little Snowy Mountains), and drive 13.8 miles to the unit.  More detailed directions are from Highway 87 turn-off.

 

Driving map for lake Mason NWR - Willow Creek Unit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last updated: September 15, 2011