U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Division of Refuge Planning
Mountain-Prairie Region

Completed Plan Contacts

The Service completed this plan
in 2013.


Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge Complex
38672 291st Street
Lake Andes, South Dakota 57356

605 / 487 7603

www.fws.gov/refuge/lake_andes_wmd www.fws.gov/refuge/karl_e_mundt


Comprehensive Conservation Plan

Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge Complex

South Dakota


This plan is for the following units of the refuge complex:

  • Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge
  • Lake Andes Wetland Management District
  • Karl E. Mundt National Wildlife Refuge

The comprehensive conservation plan sets out the management and use of all units of Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge Complex for 15 years.

The refuge complex is located in southeastern South Dakota. Vegetation at the refuge complex is mostly native prairie consisting of tallgrass, mid-grass, and shortgrass prairie interspersed with small wetlands. Cottonwood–willow riparian habitat is dominant at Karl E. Mundt National Wildlife Refuge. Although the plant and wildlife species differ across prairie types, habitat across the refuge complex is extremely important to conservation of waterfowl, bald eagles, and grassland birds. Lake Andes is a natural, shallow prairie lake whose water supply depends entirely on natural runoff.

The headquarters of the refuge complex is in the town of Lake Andes, about 80 miles southwest of Sioux Falls.

Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge

The purpose of the refuge is to preserve an important piece of habitat for waterfowl and other waterbirds.

  • Established in 1936.
  • Manages 5,639 acres, with a 4,702-acre easement from the State of South Dakota to manage Lake Andes and 937 acres owned in fee title.
  • Located in Charles Mix County, South Dakota.

Two dikes built in the 1940s separate Lake Andes into three units. This refuge relies primarily on precipitation to fill the lake; however, limited water management capability exists on the Owens Bay unit.

Lake Andes Wetland Management District

The purpose of the district is to protect wetlands and grasslands that are scattered throughout agricultural areas.

  • Established in 1961.
  • Manages 104,243 acres, of which 87,725 acres are conservation easements or leases and 16,518 acres are waterfowl production areas owned in fee title.
  • Cover 14 counties in South Dakota: Aurora, Bon Homme, Brule, Charles Mix, Clay, Davison, Douglas, Gregory, Hanson, Hutchinson, Lincoln, Turner, Union, and Yankton.
Image of the plan cover showing a small duck standing in shallow marshland.

Plan cover showing a blue-winged teal in a refuge wetland. Copyright John Jave.

The Service acquired the waterfowl production areas with money from the sale of Federal Duck Stamps, which are required to hunt waterfowl in the United States. The Service also acquires conservation easements on private lands to protect wetlands from drainage and grasslands from sod-busting. Waterfowl and other ground-nesting birds seek out these habitats and benefit from their protection.

Karl E. Mundt National Wildlife Refuge

The main purpose of the refuge is to protect bald eagles and their habitat.

  • Established in 1975.
  • Comprises 1,063 acres within the 3,050-acre area defined by the approved acquisition boundary.
  • Located in Gregory County, South Dakota, and Boyd County, Nebraska.

Karl E. Mundt National Wildlife Refuge provides important habitat for 100–300 bald eagles. The refuge protects one of the most critical bald eagle winter roosts in the country.

In the late 1960s, bald eagle populations in our Nation were declining due mostly to pesticides interfering with the eagle’s metabolism, which resulted in limited reproduction and declining populations. In the early 1970s, the National Wildlife Federation purchased an area of private land below Fort Randall Dam on the Missouri River that was critical habitat for hundreds of wintering bald eagles. In 1974, the National Wildlife Federation donated about 1,300 acres of this land to the Service for this refuge. 

Karl E. Mundt was a United States senator from South Dakota who worked on an early version of the Endangered Species Act.