What We Do

The National Wildlife Refuge System is a series of lands and waters owned and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Wildlife conservation is at the heart of the refuge system. It drives everything we do from the purpose a refuge is established, to the recreational activities offered there, to the resource management tools we use. Selecting the right tools helps us ensure the survival of local plants and animals and helps fulfill the purpose of the refuge.

Management and Conservation

Refuges use a wide range of land management tools based on the best science available. Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge uses prescribed fires to mimic natural fires that would have cleared old vegetation from the land helping native plants regenerate and local wildlife to thrive. The refuge also contains wilderness areas where land is largely managed passively. The management tools used are aimed at ensuring a balanced conservation approach where both wildlife and people will benefit.

Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge is restoring native plant communities dominated by red, white and jack pine through natural succession and forestry practices including tree planting and natural processes such as fire.

Management of the lakes, rivers and wetlands is through natural fluctuations of water levels where possible. There are a few lakes that are still being managed via water control structures for the benefit of wild rice and other aquatic vegetation that support migrating waterfowl.

The refuge uses a limited prescribed fire program to aid in reforestation and wetland restoration projects. Prescribed fire is currently being used to maintain open sedge meadows for benefit of wetland dependent birds such as yellow rails and American bitterns. 

Controlling invasive species invasive species
An invasive species is any plant or animal that has spread or been introduced into a new area where they are, or could, cause harm to the environment, economy, or human, animal, or plant health. Their unwelcome presence can destroy ecosystems and cost millions of dollars.

Learn more about invasive species
through early detection and treatment is an important part of the resource management plan for the refuge.

Our Services

Federal Recreation Passes

There is no entrance fee or parking permit required to visit the refuge.

Staff and volunteers are issuing passes Tuesday through Friday, 9 am to 4 pm at Visitor Center. Visitor Center is closed on federal holidays. We recommend that you call ahead to ensure that the office is open. (218-847-2641) Occasionally, we experience short closures.

For fee-based passes, we can only accept check payment. We cannot accept credit card payment or cash.

Some passes are available for purchase online. To purchase a Senior Annual, Annual, Access, Senior Lifetime, Military Annual or Military Lifetime Pass, visit the U.S. Geological Survey Online Store. You can find more information about these passes and fee areas, order online or plan your trip to federal public lands at Recreation.gov.

These are the passes we issue at our visitor center:

Passes FAQs

How can I pay for passes?

We can accept only check for passes. Unfortunately, we cannot accept credit card payment or cash.

Making a long trip out to the refuge?

We recommend that you call ahead to ensure that the office is open. (218-847-2641)

Will I get my pass right away?

Yes, you will leave with your pass.

Can I buy or get a pass for my parent, child or friend?

The majority of passes have an eligibility requirement. When you get your pass in-person, the eligible individual physically needs to be present. 

Law Enforcement

Law Enforcement officers at Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge help visitors understand and obey wildlife protections laws. They work closely with tribal, state and local government offices to enforce federal and state hunting regulations that protect migratory birds other game species from illegal take and preserve legitimate hunting and fishing opportunities.

Questions regarding law enforcement or violations on the refuge should be directed to Officer Chuck Melvin at 218-844-3423 or the refuge manager at 218-847-2641.

Laws and Regulations

Every  national wildlife refuge national wildlife refuge
A national wildlife refuge is typically a contiguous area of land and water managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  for the conservation and, where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

Learn more about national wildlife refuge
 was created for a special purpose. Some were created to protect migratory birds, others to protect threatened or endangered species or unique habitats, while others fulfill another special purpose. All activities allowed on refuges must be evaluated to make sure each activity will not conflict with the reason the refuge was founded.
The purpose of the Refuge is to contribute to the mission and goals of the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS, Refuge System) by:
1. Protecting and enhancing habitats for federal trust species and species of management concern, with special emphasis on migratory birds and species listed under the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973.
2. The conservation of the wetlands of the Nation in order to maintain the public benefits they provide and the help fulfill international obligations contained in various migratory bird treaties and conventions indicated in the Emergency Wetlands Resource Act of 1986.
3. Creating opportunities for hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, and environmental education and interpretation, while promoting activities that complement the purposes of the Refuge and other protected lands in the region.
4. Promoting science, education, and research through partnerships to inform land management decisions and encourage continued responsible stewardship of the natural resources of the region.