U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Division of Refuge Planning
Mountain-Prairie Region

Completed Plan Contacts

The Service completed this plan
in 2002.



Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge
10630 Road 181
Ellsworth, Nebraska 69340


308 / 762 4893




Comprehensive Conservation Plan

Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge



The comprehensive conservation plan sets the management and use of Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge for 15 years. The refuge is located in western Nebraska, on the eastern edge of the panhandle. A sea of grass in a sea of grass, Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge was established to concentrate native prairie and wetlands that attract a wide variety of wildlife, particularly migratory birds.

The legal purpose of the refuge is to serve as "a refuge and breeding ground for birds and wild animals" (Executive Order 5597).

  • Established in 1931.
  • Comprises 45,849 acres, of which 24,502 acres are proposed wilderness.
  • Located about 28 miles north of Oshkosh, in Garden County, on the eastern edge of the Nebraska Panhandle.

The Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge lies on the southwestern edge of the Nebraska Sandhills, the largest sand dune in the Western Hemisphere. The Sandhills are characterized by rolling, vegetated hills and interdunal valleys. These habitats on the refuge are interspersed with 21 wetland complexes—shallow lakes, marshes, seasonal wetlands, wet meadows, and a small stream. Wildlife diversity, except large ungulates and their predators, is relatively unchanged since early settlement.

Major actions in the comprehensive conservation plan follow:

  • Focus on the preservation and restoration of endangered plants and animals native to the refuge.
  • Maintain the wilderness qualities of the proposed wilderness.
Image of the plan cover showing a blowout penstemon plant. copyright University of Nebraska

Plan cover showing a blowout penstemon, Nebraska's rarest plant.
Cover photograph © University of Nebraska

  • Preserve, restore, and enhance the ecological diversity of uplands, wetlands, and sand areas.
  • Preserve, restore, and enhance the abundance of waterfowl and other waterbirds, ground-nesting songbirds, raptors, tree-nesting species of concern, prairie grouse, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, and fish.
  • Where appropriate, enhance and expand hunting, fishing, and interpretation activities.


Comprehensive conservation plan (CCP)
CCP 2002 (3 MB PDF)

By section, for faster download:
Approval, contents, summary (PDF)
Chapter 1, introduction/background (1 MB PDF)
Chapter 2, planning process (PDF)
Chapter 3, refuge and resource descriptions (2 MB PDF)
Chapter 4, refuge goals, objectives, and strategies (PDF)
Chapter 5, implementation and monitoring (PDF)
Appendices (PDF)

Draft CCP and environmental assessment (EA)
Draft CCP and EA 2002 (3 MB PDF)

By section, for faster download:
Draft CCP (2 MB PDF)
Appendices (PDF)