Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge

About Us

Globally Important Bird Area 

Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge is designated a Globally Important Bird Area by the American Birding Conservancy and National Audubon Society. The Refuge provides essential habitat for rare grassland bird species such as Sprague's pipit and Baird's sparrow. Some of the larger, showy members of the mixed grass prairie include marbled godwit, upland sandpiper, and willet.

Human Influences  

Native Americans, most recently the southern Assiniboine tribes, thrived in this area on abundant bison, waterfowl, and other game. Tipi rings, remnants of these previous residents, can be found at a number of locations on the Refuge. In the early-1900's, immigrants began to settle in the Lostwood area in response to the Homestead Act. The first settlers found few trees on the prairie. At one time, a small grove of trees was located near Lower Lostwood Lake. The settlers cut down the trees for firewood, a blizzard buried the wood, and the settlers were unable to find it. The nearby town of Lostwood and subsequently Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge is named for this "lost wood."

Wilderness Area 

In 1964, the Wilderness Act was passed by Congress to protect large representative tracts of ecosystems across the United States. The 5,577-acre Lostwood Wilderness Area was created in 1975 to best represent and protect the northern mixed grass prairie of the Missouri Coteau. The Lostwood Wilderness is managed to preserve wild character, beauty, and native plants and animals.

Our Mission

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

Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge was established as “…a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife…” by Executive Order 7171-A, signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on September 4, 1935.

The mission of the Refuge is “To restore and preserve the indigenous biological communities of the mid- to late-1800's on a representative sample of the physiographic region known as the Missouri Coteau of the Northern Great Plains' mixed-grass prairie."

Our History

Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1935 and is one of over 565 refuges administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 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. Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge has large tracts of northern mixed grass prairie that provide important habitat for nesting waterfowl and other grassland dependent birds. 

Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge is located in the physiographic region of North Dakota named 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.