About the District

Aerial View of District Wetlands

Crosby Wetland Management District (WMD) is located in Divide, Burke, and Williams Counties in northwestern North Dakota. The district includes over 18,000 acres of Waterfowl Production Areas (WPA's), numerous grassland and wetland easements, and the 3,219 acre Lake Zahl National Wildlife Refuge. The district headquarters is located two miles south of Crosby along Highway 42.

Crosby WMD History/Geology

Crosby WMD is divided into three geologic areas. Northern Burke and northeastern Divide Counties are drift plain, an area of large shallow potholes. South of this, the Altamont Moraine complex (Missouri Coteau) is approximately 15 to 30 miles wide and crosses the WMD diagonally from northwest to southeast. South and west of the Moraine lies the Coteau slope, an area of land sloping gently to the Missouri River. WPA's and easements are distributed throughout the three areas and Lake Zahl Refuge lies within the Coteau Slope. 
Before settlement, the dominant native vegetation was mixed grass prairie. The most common native shrub was wolfberry (buckbrush) with rose and buffaloberry also being present. Groves of aspen and willow, with an occasional cottonwood, grew on the rims of wetlands. The area was homesteaded in the late 1800's and early 1900's with farming the primary land use. Livestock production was secondary. The depression of the 1930's forced many farmers to sell land and livestock. The early 1940's, however, ushered in a period of prosperity that caused a boom in small grain production. Prairie is still being converted to cropland today.

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Waterfowl Production Areas

WPA's are lands owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; purchased with money generated from the sales of Federal Ducks Stamps. They are managed to establish and protect waterfowl breeding and nesting habitat. There are 99 WPA's scattered in the three county district. They vary in size from the 12-acre Olson Unit in Williams County, to the 2,270-acre Fuller Unit in Williams County.

Hunting is permitted on WPA's.  For more information about hunting and other public use regulations and opportunities, check out our Visitor Activities page. 

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The Lake Zahl National Wildlife Refuge is managed primarily for waterfowl production but it is also used by thousands of waterfowl and other water birds as a resting and feeding area during migration. 

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The Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge lies in the heart of the Missouri Coteau region, an ancient glacial moraine area. Topography ranges from rolling to steep hills and is covered by mixed-grass prairie. The area is dotted with wetlands that are often called "potholes." At 26,904 acres total, the Refuge contains a 5,577-acre Wilderness Area established in 1975.