Skip Navigation

About the Refuge

Halfbreed scene


Halfbreed Lake National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is one of four satellite (unstaffed) national wildlife refuges in central Montana and is part of the Charles M. Russell Complex. Halfbreed Lake NWR was established on May 19, 1942 by President Franklin D Roosevelt when he signed Executive Order 9167. This order established the refuge and a boundary “as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife” although it did not convey any lands. It was initially managed as a flowage and refuge easement. In 1987, the Service purchased 3,246 acres in fee title, which included most of the original easement lands. The Refuge now consists of 3,246 acres in refuge fee title, 640 acres of state land where the Service has acquired the grazing lease, and 400 acres of private land that is still covered by the original refuge easement.

This 4,318 acre refuge contains three large wetlands which are filled by Cedar Creek. Halfbreed Lake is a productive 248 acre semi-permanent wetland that has a good interspersion of open water and emergent vegetation. The other two wetlands, Grass Lake (375 acres) and Goose Lake (220 acres), are shallower and less permanent, but sustain highly productive stands of submergent vegetation. Western wheatgrass, prairie junegrass, and greasewood provide upland cover for nesting birds.

Halfbreed Lake NWR is one of the most productive migratory bird areas in central Montana. When water is present, the refuge is used in abundance by a diversity of migratory birds, both during migration and for nesting. The peak of waterfowl migration occurs typically in April and October. Over 500 Canada Geese have been known to congregate here in July and August after molting. In 1997, Halfbreed Lake NWR was designated an Important Bird Area (IBA). An IBA is a site that is exceptionally important - even essential - for bird conservation. The Refuge was designated based on the number of waterbirds, shorebirds, and wading birds present each year.

This Refuge is closed to all public uses as it is intended as a sanctuary for all wildlife, free from disturbance by human activities.

Halfbreed Lake NWR is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Refuge is one of over 550 refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System - a system of lands set aside to conserve wildlife and habitat for people today and generations to come.


Last Updated: Mar 20, 2014
Return to main navigation