National Wildlife Refuge System

Scenic Views of Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge Scenic Views of Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge Scenic Views of Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge Scenic Views of Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge


About Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge


Click on picture below to see better resolution of Medicine Lake NWR
Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) was established in 1935 for wildlife conservation. The refuge is located on terrain once scoured by glaciers in Northeastern Montana between the Missouri River and the Canadian border as shown in the map to the right. Medicine Lake provides important breeding grounds and stopover areas for migratory birds. The refuge contains 31,702 acres of water, marsh, and uplands bordering the great prairie pothole duck production region.

Species that use the refuge extensively include the American white pelicans, great blue herons, Baired’s sparrows, Bald Eagle, Sprague’s pipits, chestnut collared longspurs, Franklin ’s gulls, blue-winged teal, gadwalls, northern pintails, Canada geese, American wigeons, redheads, northern shovelers, lesser scaup, ruddy ducks, canvasbacks, mallards, and other breeding birds. More than 100,000 individual birds stop here during the spring and fall migration. On the refuge more than 200 winged species and 44 mammalian species have been identified. Endangered or threatened species at Medicine Lake include the whooping crane, Eskimo curlew, piping plover and white sturgeon.


Refuge Area and Class I Designation

  • In 1976, Congress designated 11,366 acres of Medicine Lake NWR as wilderness, declaring that the area should remain undeveloped and "unimpaired" for future generations. Medicine Lake, its islands, and the adjacent Sandhills Unit are included in the Wilderness Area.
  • In 1977, Congress acknowledged the uniqueness of the Medicine Lake Wilderness Area by designating it as a Class I air quality area.  As a wilderness area it is afforded special protection under the Clean Air Act.
  • Congress gave the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), as the Federal Land Manager (FLM) of the Medicine Lake NWR, the responsibility to protect the air quality and natural resources of the area from man-made air pollution. Despite this protection, many sources of man-made air pollution affect Medicine Lake NWR including power plants in both the U.S. and Canada, gas-processing plants, oil and gas wells, and motor vehicle emissions.
  • The FWS is working cooperatively with industry and the States of Montana and North Dakota to reduce air pollution emissions and protect the air quality and Air Quality Related Values (AQRVs) of Medicine Lake NWR.
  • If the Medicine Lake Wilderness Area is not protected, unique wildlife and scenic values could be threatened or lost. The FWS hopes to preserve and protect this special wilderness area for future generations.


Learn more about air quality at the Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge


FWS monitors the air quality at Medicine Lake NWR in partnership with three national programs: atmospheric pollutants found in rain are analyzed as part of the National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP - the "acid rain" program); mercury in rain is analyzed as part of the Mercury Deposition Network Program; fine particles responsible for visibility impairment are measured as part of the Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments (IMPROVE) program. Within this website are the resources to discover why air pollution poses a threat to Medicine Lake NWR and what the FWS is doing to prevent the deterioration of air quality in this pristine area:

  • Learn the basics of air quality - Air Quality
  • Understand what are the air quality related values - AQRV
  • Learn about how air quality can affect natural and scenic resources - Impacts
  • Find real time monitoring data and studies being performed at the refuge - Studies & Monitoring



Addition Information:
Regional Air Quality Information (as provided by NPS)
Medicine Lake NWR Website
Medicine Lake NWR 300km Radius Map (PDF 210KB)

Last updated: November 8, 2012