National Wildlife Refuge
|44843 County Road 19
Odessa, MN 56276
Phone Number: 320-273-2191
|Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
|Big Stone Refuge was named for its lichen-covered granite outcrops.|
Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge
Straddling the headwaters of the Minnesota River in extreme west-central Minnesota, Big Stone Refuge is within the heart of the tallgrass prairie's historic range. Today, less than one-percent of tallgrass prairie remains.
Big Stone Refuge serves as the "keeper of the prairie" by working to maintain and restore native prairie habitat while providing optimum nesting cover for waterfowl and other grassland nesting birds. The refuge contains 11,521 acres: 1,028 acres in Big Stone County and 10,493 acres in Lac Qui Parle County. The refuge is located in Minnesota's second Congressional District.
The primary refuge purposes stated in authorizing documents are flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife conservation. The refuge's principal objective is to provide optimum nesting cover for ground-nesting waterfowl production. Approximately 30,000 people visit the refuge annually.
Getting There . . .
The refuge office and maintenance facility are located approximately eight miles east of Ortonville, MN (South Dakota border) and one-half mile west of Odessa, MN. From Highway 7/75, take Big Stone County Road #19 south approximately three-quarters of a mile.
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The primary management focus of the refuge is to maintain and restore native prairie grassland habitat and, in so doing, provide optimum nesting cover for waterfowl and other grassland nesting birds. Controlled burning and limited grazing are two tools used to manage these restored and native prairies. These techniques mimic historical natural fire and grazing events that occurred throughout the prairie ecosystem.
The refuge has several water impoundments which enable us to manage over 2,000 acres of marsh and open water habitat. However, water levels are ultimately controlled by the Corps of Engineers as flood control mandates dictate. Several smaller sub-impoundments allow us to manage 300 acres independently from any flood control needs.
Water management is geared toward providing optimum habitat conditions for waterfowl, shorebirds, and other waterbirds. The refuge carries out a chemical and mechanical weed control program to comply with state weed laws, primarily to control Canada thistle. In 1997, the refuge established three flea beetle insectories in an attempt to control leafy spurge through biological means.
The refuge staff completes a number of biological surveys each year, including waterfowl breeding pair counts(on/off refuge), white-tailed deer monitoring, breeding bird survey, grassland bird point counts, furbearer populations, waterfowl migration surveys, pheasant surveys, predator scent post surveys, bluebird nest box trail, artificial waterfowl nest structure monitoring (~180 structures) and colonial bird nesting surveys.
Land acquisition to achieve the current goal of approximately 14,300 acres is on-going on a willing-seller basis. About 20 permanent food plots on 450 acres are maintained for the benefit of resident game and to help offset deer depredation problems on adjacent private lands.