Lostwood Wetland Management District

About Us

The Lostwood Wetland Management District was established in 1961. The wetland management district wetland management district
A wetland management district is a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office that manages waterfowl production areas in one or more counties. Waterfowl production areas are small natural wetlands and grasslands that provide breeding, resting and nesting habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds, grassland birds and other wildlife. The Fish and Wildlife Service acquires waterfowl production areas under the authority of the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Act, primarily using funds from the sale of Federal Duck Stamps. The Refuge System’s 38 wetland management districts comprise thousands of waterfowl production areas – almost all in the Prairie Pothole Region of the Northern Great Plains.

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is part of the Northern Coteau region which was formed by debris that piled in front of the advance of the most recent glaciers in this area. As the glaciers retreated, the rubble was left to form the gentle rolling hills you see today. Coteau is a French word meaning "little hill". Buried in that rubble were large chunks of ice that were sheared off glaciers. As that ice melted, depressions were formed. Those depressions are the wetlands you see spread across the Coteau region; over 150 per square mile. The Northern Coteau is also where you can find some of the largest, contiguous tracts of native northern mixed grass prairie in the United States. Prior to European immigration, these lands were occupied and cared for by Native Americans. Six Native American tribal governments remain throughout North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota.

The wetland management district was primarily established to preserve the integrity of the historical and vital resting and breeding grounds of North American migratory waterfowl. The protection of these critical areas also has compounding positive effects, especially for the resident wildlife.


Wetlands are unique habitats that provide food, cover, water, and space for a variety of wildlife. Wetlands, because of the wildlife that depend on them, also offer many recreational opportunities. Whether you're a hunter, trapper, birdwatcher, or someone looking for a nice place to sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenery, wetlands have something to offer. 

Wetlands are more than just duck habitat; they also slow water flows during run-off which reduces the impact of flooding. As water slows, it filters into the groundwater supply, recharging wells, aquifers, and soil moisture. Wetlands collect nutrients and sediments, purifying water as it filters. During dry years, they may also provide an important water source for livestock.


The grasslands throughout the wetland management district have a rich diversity of plants with 700 species represented in the region and over 100 species of grasses found in this area of North Dakota. Northern mixed grass prairie consists of species of eastern tallgrass, western shortgrass, northern fescue, and southern sandhill prairies. Like all habitats, the health of prairie grasslands is determined by temperature, moisture, light, soil type, and topography.

Grasslands provide nesting opportunities for migrating waterfowl and resident wildlife populations. Grasslands in the Prairie Pothole Region are the most important to breeding waterfowl such as northern pintails, mallards, blue-winged teal, and northern shovelers. 

The economic benefit associated with grasslands in this area is important to humans as well. These areas serve large herds of livestock for ranchers. Grasslands plants and soil have extraordinary capacity to remove and store atmospheric carbon, thus diminishing greenhouse gases. Plants remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis and use it to build leaves, stems, and roots. 

Our Mission

Each unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System is established to serve a purpose that targets the conservation of native species that are dependent on its lands and waters. All activities on those acres are reviewed for compatibility with this purpose.

Wetland Management Districts conserve an important network of public and private wetland and upland habitats. This network preserves the integrity of the historical and vital resting and breeding grounds of North America’s migratory waterfowl. As part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, these lands benefit ducks, other migratory birds, threatened and endangered species, and resident wildlife.

  • The responsible management and protection of this expanding network requires adequate funding, dedicated personnel, and successful partnerships.

District communities and visitors value grasslands and marshes as a beneficial and important component of a diverse, healthy, and productive prairie landscape.

  • Current and future generations enjoy wildlife-dependent uses of these lands and partners, especially waterfowl hunters, actively support and encourage the wetland management districts habitat conservation programs.

Our History

Lostwood Wetland Management District is located primarily in the physiographic region of the Missouri Coteau. Coteau is French for "little hill." This distinctive landscape of rolling hills and wetlands was shaped by glaciers. The glaciers melted away 10,000 years ago, leaving behind a moraine or ridge of rocks and soil varying in width from 10 to 60 miles. This glaciated region extends from southeast Alberta to northwest Iowa and is also known as the Prairie Pothole Region.

The Wetland Management District was established in 1961. The Waterfowl Production Areas were purchased using the Federal Migratory Bird Conservation Fund - used to acquire migratory bird habitat. In 1958, the Duck Stamp Act was amended to include the Small Wetland Acquisition Program (SWAP) and allowed for the acquisition of Waterfowl Production Areas in addition to the previously authorized lands.