Ten thousand years ago, the last glacier had to climb a steep topographical rise, the "Missouri Escarpment," to continue its southwesterly path over the area known as Lostwood Refuge. The climbing ice pushed tons of material, "glacial drift," ahead of it and deposited it just beyond the escarpment.
When the ice began to melt, glacial drift became concentrated on the ice surface and acted as an insulator to the ice beneath. As a result, the drift area retained ice long after it had disappeared from the rest of northwestern North Dakota.
Along with a myriad of lakes, wetlands and streams. As the ice melted beneath, the drift settled, creating rocky, rolling hills with numerous shallow lakes and wetlands known today as the Missouri coteau.
As precipitation slowly decreased, forests gave way to mantles of grass. Lakes and wetlands evolved into highly productive duck hatcheries producing millions of birds every year. Bison, elk, sharp-tailed grouse, grizzly bear, and wolf were also abundant.
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