About the Refuge

Creedman Coulee 512_219

Creedman Coulee National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is one of four satellite, or un-manned refuges, administered by the Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge, Wetland Management District program.

Creedman Coulee NWR was established by Franklin D. Roosevelt on October 25, 1941 by Executive Order No. 8924, as a Migratory Waterfowl Refuge. Historical records document two other names for this drainage and refuge, Greedman coulee or Greenman Coulee.

The original Executive Order designated 3,040 acres, consisting of 80 acres reserved from public domain and 2,960 acres of privately owned land encumbered by eight refuge and flowage easements.

Creedman Coulee NWR is located in Hill County, about 33 miles north of the city of Havre. One of the primary features of this Refuge is the 181 acre Creedman Reservoir. The uplands are short, mixed-grass prairie, and agricultural land. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) easements over these uplands provide no authority over the surface use, except for hunting and trapping.

When full, Creedman Reservoir attracts migrating waterfowl and provides habitat for hundreds of nesting birds. Established trees near the reservoir serve as a rookery for great blue herons and double-crested cormorants.

Water rights to Creedman Reservoir are owned by one downstream landowner and the Service. To ensure water was available for nesting waterfowl and broods, the height of the reservoir dam was increased and a gravity-flow outlet structure was installed in the dam. This outlet structure ensured the water could not be drawn below the elevation of 90 feet. Under this arrangement, the downstream landowner could still use all the water above this elevation for irrigation purposes without the need for pumping, and a water supply could be maintained throughout the year for use by waterfowl.

The history of Creedman Coulee NWR is tied to the Emergency Relief Act and the Works Progress Administration program. Created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl era of the mid -1930s, these programs were developed to employ the maximum number of people to work on public lands.

Works Progress Administration crews performed construction on all four satellite refuges in the Bowdoin NWR Complex between 1936 and 1941. Their activities focused not only on buildings, roads, and other facilities, but also on the construction of dams and levees to impound water.

The Works Progress Administration was pivotal to the establishment of all four satellite refuges. During this Dust Bowl era, the country and the federal government were very focused on capturing and conserving water for wildlife, particularly waterfowl, and agricultural operations. Water impoundments were popularized when the connection was made to employing out-of-work citizens to build the structures needed to impound and manage limited water resources.