A sea of grass in a sea of grass, Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge was established under Executive Order 5597 to serve as "a refuge and breeding ground for birds and wild animals,” particularly migratory birds.
Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge provides numerous recreational opportunities to thousands of visitors every year. Whether boating, driving, hunting, fishing or walking, visitors enjoy viewing the unique geology and diverse wildlife found here such as the burrowing owl. Regulation of recreational activities allows for public enjoyment of the Refuge while still protecting the wildlife and their habitats.
Location and Contact Information
The Nebraska Sandhills is the largest system of sand dunes in the Western Hemisphere! The Sandhills are characterized by rolling, vegetated hills and interdunal valleys. These habitats on the Refuge are interspersed with 21 wetland complexes, which comprise approximately 18 percent of the Refuge's total acreage. These wetlands are a mixture of shallow lakes, marshes, seasonal wetlands, wet meadows and a small stream resulting from Refuge management activities.
The Refuge Complex headquarters is located at:
Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge
10630 Rd. 181
Ellsworth, Nebraska 69340
Phone: (308) 762-4893
Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge's Office is open Monday - Friday from 8:00AM to 4:30PM except for Federal holidays. The Refuge is open sunrise to sunset.
What We Do
Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge uses various management tools to maintain quality habitat for nesting and migratory birds, such as grazing and prescribed fire. Habitat management supports tall warm season grasses in the meadows while maintaining grassland diversity in the sand dune hills. Additional restoration and maintenance techniques include monitoring and controlling water levels to encourage desired plant growth used as food and cover by wildlife. Experimental bio-control insect releases and seeding of native plants are also used to aid in native plant community recovery on the Refuge. Wildlife and vegetation surveys are conducted throughout the year to inventory populations and document habitat use.
Thirty-one species of waterfowl can be found on the Refuge, fifteen of which nest here. Fifteen marsh bird species may also be found on the Refuge with seven of these producing young on Refuge lands. Thirty-two different species of shorebirds may be found at Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge, seven of which nest here. The Refuge supports bald eagles, trumpeter swans, short-eared owls, American bittern and the endangered plant, blowout penstemon.
Projects and Research
Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge has a history of conducting and participating in scientific research. For example, Dr. John Iverson and his students from Earlham College (Richmond, Indiana) have been capturing, measuring, individually marking, releasing, and recapturing turtles on the Refuge since 1981.