Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge was officially established May 21, 1975 when 10,540 acres of land purchased by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. These lands were originally acquired as part of the Big Stone Lake‐Whetstone River Project, which was authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1965. The purposes of the project were: to reduce sedimentation in Big Stone Lake by redirecting the Whetstone River into the Minnesota River, to provide flood control for lands downstream and to provide habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife. Today, the refuge includes 11,586 acres, because of subsequent land acquisition from willing sellers. Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge is located in two Minnesota counties, Big Stone and Lac qui Parle.
The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System is to administer a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management and, where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.
Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge gets its purposes from five different legal authorities that collectively provide broad direction regarding conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitats with specific focus on migratory birds.
The legal authorities are:
- Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act
- Refuge Recreation Act
- Emergency Wetlands Resources Act of 1986
- Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956
- Migratory Bird Conservation Act
May 21, 1975 - 10,540 acres of land purchased by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service