About the Refuge

Stone entrance sign as you enter the refuge headquarters

"Wild beasts and birds are by right not the property merely of the people who are alive today, but the property of unknown generations whose belongings we have no right to squander"
-Theodore Roosevelt  

Recognized as a prominent landmark, Long Lake played host to Plains Indians and early European settlers who camped and hunted waterfowl and other game along its shores and was established in 1932 by President Herbert Hoover to provide sanctuary and habitat for migratory birds that use the Central Flyway migration corridor. 

The refuge contains 22,300 acres. The dominant habitat feature is a 16,000 acre natural, alkaline lake created within the prairie landscape during the most recent ice age. The lake is two miles wide, eighteen miles long and has been separated into three units using dikes and spillways in an attempt to manage water levels and control avian botulism disease outbreaks that have historically occurred. 

Water levels in the lake are highly variable depending on inflows from Long Lake Creek located south of the refuge. The result is a highly dynamic system. During wet periods the lake sustains depths of four to six feet for successive years providing an excellent fishery. As water levels recede exposed mud flats provide a mecca for waterfowl, shorebirds, and other rare water birds including endangered Whooping Crane. Beyond the lake, smaller scattered seasonal wetlands and pools are interspersed within mixed grass prairie, ravines, tree and shrub plantings, and cultivated fields. 

The refuge was listed as a top 10 birding site by Wild Bird Magazine. It was also recently designated as both a  Globally Important Bird Area and a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) site because of its importance as both a breeding and migratory stopover site for more than 20,000, shorebirds, annually.