Scientists estimate the original tallgrass prairie in Minnesota and Iowa covered about 25 million acres. Now, there are only about 300,000 acres left in the two states. The refuge was created to work with individuals, groups and government agencies to permanently preserve and restore some of the northern tallgrass prairie. The Northern Tallgrass Prairie National Wildlife Refuge encompasses all or part of 85 counties in western Minnesota and Iowa. The refuge’s long-term goal is to protect 77,000 acres through conservation easements and government ownership. Easements and purchased lands are managed or overseen by the refuge or wetland management district office covering the area where the lands are located.
Today, the refuge includes 49 parcels of land totaling over 5,000 acres. Forty-one units are protected through conservation easements, totaling nearly 2,500 acres. The eight units owned by the refuge system total nearly 3,000 acres; these parcels include two units in Iowa (352 acres) and seven units in Minnesota (2,451 acres).Overview Map of Northern Tallgrass Prairie Refuge