This refuge is managed as part of the Charles M. Russell Complex. A National Wildlife Refuge Complex is an administrative grouping of two or more refuges, wildlife management areas or other refuge conservation areas that are primarily managed from a central office location. Refuges are grouped into a complex structure because they occur in a similar ecological region, such as a watershed or specific habitat type, and have a related purpose and management needs. Typically, a project leader or complex manager oversees the general management of all refuges within the complex and refuge managers are responsible for operations at specific refuges. Supporting staff, composed of administrative, law enforcement, refuge manager, biological, fire, visitor services, and maintenance professionals, are centrally located and support all refuges within the complex.
Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge (CMR) is the only staffed refuge in the Complex. Other refuges in the Charles M. Russell Complex include: Hailstone National Wildlife Refuge, Halfbreed Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Lake Mason National Wildlife Refuge, and Warhorse National Wildlife Refuge. UL Bend National Wildlife Refuge is located within the boundaries of CMR and is managed as part of that refuge. The Refuge Complex headquarters is located at Airport Road, Lewistown, MT 59457.
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The refuge was named in recognition of this colorful western artist who often portrayed the refuge’s landscape in his paintings and whose conservation ethic was years ahead of his time.