COVID-19 Information

Being safe on our refuges and hatcheries

We are proud to provide opportunities for safe, enjoyable experiences at many of our national wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries during the coronavirus pandemic.

If visiting one of our locations, please #RecreateResponsibly and follow guidance from the CDC and state and local public health authorities on social distancing, exercising good hygiene and avoiding overcrowding:

  • Plan your visit outside of peak hours
  • If a parking lot is full when you visit, please continue on to another trail
  • Park only in designated areas
  • Pack out everything, including pet waste
  • Keep your dog on a leash for the protection of your pet and other visitors
  • Please only visit if you are feeling healthy - we ask you to stay home if you're feeling sick
  • We discourage long-distance travel

We understand that the outdoors can help relieve stress, but these guidelines must be followed for our public health and safety. For now, refuge visitor centers and other public facilities are closed and most scheduled events have been postponed. For more information, visitor our webpage: FWS Coronavirus Response


Refuge lands remain open 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset daily 

The restrooms at the Oak Savanna Learning Center and hiking trailheads are open to the public. Pit toilets at the Blue Hill and Mahnomen Trailheads are scheduled for cleaning on Monday. OSLC restrooms are scheduled for cleaning on Wednesday and Friday.

Blue Hill, Mahnomen and Oak Savanna Learning Center trails remain open for winter hiking. Mahnomen Trail is groomed for classic cross-country skiing as snow levels allow. Reference the home page for trail conditions.

Additionally, through February 28, the service roads are open to hiking or biking and we welcome you to get off the beaten path and explore the interior of the refuge. Please be aware that when you hike the service roads or venture off trail, you're likely entering areas open to hunting and that we advise wearing blaze orange and blaze pink.

The Prairie's Edge Wildlife Drive is closed to vehicle access for the season and will reopen in the spring, once the frost goes out of the road and the surface is firm enough to drive on. Meanwhile, it remains open to hiking, biking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. For access, park on the shoulder of County Road 5 or the approach to the drive, ensuring that you don't block gate access.

Brande Road is closed to vehicle access for the season and will reopen to vehicles on September 1, 2021. Now through February 28, it remains open to hiking, biking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing through February 28.


Refuge Headquarters has changed its operations as of 3/19/20

Refuge Headquarters has temporarily changed its operations in response to the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak. This closure follows guidance from the CDC and recommendations from state and public health authorities. While Refuge Headquarters is closed to the public, we are unable to issue America the Beautiful Passes. Updates will be posted here on the refuge website. 
Snowshoe checkout requests should be sent to Alaina Larkin, using the contact information listed at the bottom of this page. There are additional requirements this year and they include:
  • Sending request by Thursday at 8 am.
  • Scheduling and attending a ten minute video chat to go over the snowshoes and bindings.
  • Providing requested sizes and numbers of snowshoes at least one day prior to pickup.
  • Scheduling a pickup time on Friday between 12 pm - 4 pm. Pickup is at the Oak Savanna Learning Center at 16797 289th Ave NW in Zimmerman.
  • Arriving at your scheduled pickup time and loading snowshoes into your vehicle.
  • Returning snowshoes to the Oak Savanna Learning Center at a scheduled time the following Friday.
While the Eagle's Nest Nature Store, run by the Friends of Sherburne, is not open to in-person shopping, you can browse options on their online store. Orders are shipped via the U.S. Postal Service or curbside pickup can be arranged.
As of 1/20/2021, Refuge Headquarters remains closed to the public.


Winter events go virtual

In keeping with guidance from the CDC and acting out of an abundance of caution, we are joining other community organizations in shifting to virtual programming for the winter and are not planning any in-person events at this time. This includes the Sherburne NWR Photography Club monthly meeting on February 10. Reference the Events Calendar page for details!

We know many people across the community will miss gathering for these events, but we are committed to doing our part to ensure public safety and to slow the spread of COVID-19. This decision was made for the safety of our visitors, volunteers and staff, and to prevent encouraging groups of ten or more from gathering. We will continue to monitor the situation and all relevant guidance and will resume hosting in-person refuge events when it is prudent to do so.

Questions? Please email or call or text Alaina Larkin, Visitor Services Manager, at 763-260-3078.