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
  • Wear a mask when social distancing cannot be maintained
  • 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

Federal Mask Mandate

When entering or remaining on a national wildlife refuge, visitors over the age of two years, regardless of vaccination status, must wear masks in the locations listed below, except when actively eating or drinking. Masks must cover the nose and mouth and fit snugly around the nose and chin with no large gaps around the sides of the face. Masks with ventilation valves and face shields do not meet the mask requirement. Masks should not be worn by children younger than two years old, anyone who has trouble breathing and anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

Locations where masks are required:

  • All common areas and shared workspaces in buildings owned, rented or leased by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, including, but not limited to, visitor centers, administrative offices and gift shops
  • The following outdoor areas when others are present and social distancing cannot be maintained:
    • Outdoor areas adjacent to visitor centers or administrative office entry areas
    • Parking lots or pull-off viewing areas when outside of an enclosed vehicle
    • Trailheads, trails, rest areas, fishing piers, boat ramps and close proximity hunting areas

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 trails 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  Blue Hill and Mahnomen Trailheads are scheduled for cleaning on Wednesday. OSLC restrooms are scheduled for cleaning on Wednesday and Friday.

Blue Hill, Mahnomen and Oak Savanna Learning Center trails are open daily for hiking. The Prairie's Edge Wildlife Drive is closed to vehicles for the season and remains open to hiking and winter activities. It will reopen to vehicles in spring 2022 when road conditions allow. Brande Road is also closed to vehicles for the season and remains open to hiking and winter activities through February 28. It will reopen to vehicles on September 1, 2022.

Wildlife sanctuary is lifted, and, through February 28, the service roads are open to hiking and biking. Additionally, off-trail hiking is allowed throughout the entire refuge, excluding the closed area.


Refuge Headquarters

Refuge Headquarters is open Wednesday through Friday, 10 am to 4 pm. Wearing a mask is required in this building, regardless of vaccination status. Staff and volunteers are issuing America the Beautiful passes and can only accept cash or check payment for fee-based passes.

While the Eagle's Nest Nature Store, run by the Friends of Sherburne, you can browse options on their online store. Online orders are shipped via the U.S. Postal Service or curbside pickup can be arranged. 


Fall and winter events

In keeping with guidance from the CDC and acting out of an abundance of caution, we are joining other community organizations in shifting the majority of programming to entirely outdoors in smaller groups or virtual presentations. This includes the Sherburne NWR Photography Club monthly meeting on January 12. 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 larger in-person refuge events when it is prudent to do so.


Questions? Email or call (763) 389-3323