Lake Mason National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is one of four satellite national wildlife refuges in central Montana managed by Charles M. Russell NWR and consists of three separate tracts of land: Lake Mason Unit, Willow Creek Unit, and North Unit. With the exception of the north half of the Lake Mason Unit, the refuge is open to hunting, fishing, 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.
Lake Mason Unit, the southernmost unit of the Refuge, contains a 1,250-acre ephemeral wetland. 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.
To access the Lake Mason Unit, turn south from Highway 87 on 4th Street West in Roundup. 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.
The 2,240 acre Willow Creek Unit is 22 miles northwest of Roundup, MT. There are no natural wetlands on this property and only one small artificial reservoir that provides water and wetland habitat for wildlife. The unit is primarily native prairie with sagebrush occurring on a ridge along the south boundary. Willow Creek Unit is managed for the benefit of mountain plovers, a species of concern within the State. Other wildlife observed here include pronghorn, burrowing owls, ferruginous hawks, long-billed curlews, black-tailed prairie dogs, and many songbirds.
To access the Willow Creek Unit, 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.
The 5,323 acre North Unit is located 24-miles northwest of Roundup, MT along an intermittent stream that provides habitat and water for wildlife. There are two small artificial reservoirs and one small natural wetland that also provide water and habitat for wildlife. The unit is a sagebrush shrub land with an under story of mixed-grass prairie. While this unit is of minimal value for waterfowl, it provides excellent habitat for greater sage grouse, upland sandpipers, long-billed curlews, pronghorn, chestnut-collared longspurs, a variety of raptors, and elk (during the winter).
For access to the North Unit, 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.
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The Willow Creek Unit of Lake Mason National Wildlife Refuge is managed for the benefit of mountain plovers. A Montana state species of concern, these birds are attracted to sparse vegetation. The short-grass prairie of this refuge is maintained by prescribed burning and grazing.