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Deer Flat
National Wildlife Refuge

Western grebes and American white pelican in smartweed at Lake Lowell.
13751 Upper Embankment Rd
Nampa, ID   83686 - 8046
E-mail: deerflat@fws.gov
Phone Number: 208-467-9278
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Western grebes and American white pelican in smartweed at Lake Lowell.
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Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge

Nestled in the rolling sagebrush hills of southwest Idaho, the watery oasis at Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge provides an important breeding area for birds and mammals, as well as other wildlife. The refuge is also a significant resting and wintering area for birds migrating along the Pacific Flyway, including spectacular concentrations of mallards and Canada geese. Because of its value to birds, Deer Flat has been declared an Important Bird Area by the American Bird Conservancy.

Located southwest of Boise, Idaho, the refuge has two units, Lake Lowell and the Snake River Islands. The Lake Lowell unit encompasses 10,588 acres, including the almost 9,000-acre Lake Lowell and surrounding lands. The Snake River Islands unit contains about 1200 acres on 104 islands. These islands are distributed along 113 river miles from the Canyon-Ada County Line in Idaho to Farewell Bend in Oregon. Several islands house heron rookeries and gull colonies, and provide feeding and resting spots for migratory birds.

The refuge protects a wide range of wildlife habitats, from the open waters and wetland edges of Lake Lowell, to the sagebrush uplands around the lake, to the grasslands and riparian forests on the Snake River islands. Refuge staff use a variety of wildlife management techniques to create and maintain wildlife habitat. With assistance from local growers, the refuge also cooperatively farms 240 acres to provide food for wildlife.

The variety of habitats makes the refuge an important breeding area for resident and migratory birds and other wildlife. The refuge is also a significant resting and wintering area for birds migrating along the Pacific Flyway, including spectacular concentrations of mallards and Canada geese.

Deer Flat, founded by President Teddy Roosevelt on February 25, 1909, is one of the oldest refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System, which now includes over 560 refuges. Managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the System preserves a network of lands and waters set aside for the conservation and management of the nation's fish, wildlife, and plant resources for the benefit of present and future generations.

Getting There . . .
Take Exit 33A (west-bound) or Exit 33 (east-bound) off of I-84. After exiting the freeway, head west on Highway 55/Karcher Road. Follow Karcher Road about 3.5 miles to Lake Avenue. Turn left onto Lake Avenue and drive about 2.5 miles to the stop sign at Roosevelt Avenue. Turn right onto Roosevelt Avenue. At Indiana Avenue at the top of the hill, turn left into the refuge and follow the road to the Visitor Center.

Click here for a refuge map.

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Wildlife and Habitat

The Lake Lowell unit is overlaid on a Bureau of Reclamation irrigation project reservoir about four miles southwest of Nampa, Idaho.

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Before settlement, the area that was to become Deer Flat Refuge was a low-lying area with many springs. In winter, herds of deer and elk came from the mountains to eat the abundant grasses. Early settlers observing these herds dubbed the area Deer Flat.

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Management Activities
On the Lake Lowell Unit, refuge managers manipulate habitats for migratory birds and native wildlife. These programs include farming, fire management, plant control, wildlife surveys, and banding.

Approximately 240 acres are irrigated and farmed cooperatively to provide food and cover for wildlife. Refuge managers maintain riparian forests near the lake by removing invasive trees like Russian olive and saltcedar. They also set prescribed fires to improve wildlife habitat and reduce fuel loads in the riparian forests and maintain nesting habitat on the Snake River islands.

Wildlife surveys are conducted to inventory species and help determine the effectiveness of the farming program and other habitat management practices. Banding of migratory birds is conducted in coordination with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

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