J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is located along the Souris River in Bottineau and McHenry counties in north-central North Dakota. The 58,693-acre Refuge extends from the Manitoba border southward for approximately 45 miles in an area which was once Glacial Lake Souris. The area is old lake bottom and has extremely flat topography and a high density of temporary wetlands.
The Souris River originates in southern Saskatchewan, flows southwest to Velva, North Dakota, and then generally north to join the Assiniboine River in southern Manitoba. The United States portion of the river is 358 miles long and has a drainage basin of 9,000 square miles; 371 miles of river and 15,000 square miles of the basin are in Canada. Approximately 75 miles of the Souris River are within the boundaries of the Refuge.
J. Clark Salyer Wetland Management District (WMD) is located in north-central North Dakota. The District covers 6,543 square miles in Renville, Bottineau, Rolette, McHenry, and Pierce counties. Within the District, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages 27,332 acres of waterfowl production areas (WPA), 128,117 acres of wetland easements, 15,231 acres of grassland easements, 6,500 acres of Farmers Home Administration conservation easements, and 7,910 acres of easement refuges.
Grassland management in the District includes rotational grazing, rotational haying, prescribed burning, and farming. A combination of the above management tools as well as spraying and biological agents are used to control noxious weeds and other exotic species. Haying, grazing, and farming are accomplished cooperatively with approximately 50 private landowners each year.
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Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), located 30 miles northwest of Minot, North Dakota, was established in 1935 as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife. The Refuge straddles 35 miles of the picturesque Souris River valley in northern North Dakota. The Souris River basin figures prominently in the cultural and natural history of the North American mid-continent plains and prairies.
The 32,092-acre Refuge includes a narrow band of river bottom woodlands, fertile floodplains, native mixed-grass hills, and steep, shrub-covered coulees. The focal point of the Refuge is the 9,600-acre Lake Darling, which was constructed in 1936 to provide water to downstream marshes on J. Clark Salyer and Upper Souris NWRs.
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25 species of ducks use the Refuge habitat, including 4 species that are rare visitors and 16 species that breed here.