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National Wildlife Refuge

male lesser scaup with cattails to right and water in background
17788 349th St. SE (Polk County 210)
Erskine, MN   56535
E-mail: rydell@fws.gov
Phone Number: 218-687-2229
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Rydell Refuge provides habitat for a diversity of wildlife, inclduing waterfowl such as lesser scaup.
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Rydell National Wildlife Refuge

Rydell National Wildlife Refuge is located in the Prairie Pothole Region of Northwestern Minnesota, between the flat Red River Valley Floodplain to the west and the rolling hardwood forest and lake regions to the east.

The refuge is located on the historic Glacial Lake Agassiz beach ridge transition zone, changing from northern tallgrass prairie/aspen parkland to eastern deciduous forest. Current ecological communities on the refuge consist of northern tallgrass prairie, prairie wetlands, maple-basswood forest, oak savannah, and aspen-ironwood-ash-birch regrowth. Sundew Bog, a rich fen area that sustains the carnivorous round-leafed sundew plant, as well as other rare indigenous plants, is the most unusual remnant plant community on the refuge.

The refuge visitor center and an extensive trail system allow for optimum wildlife observation and photography. The unique combination of habitats provides sanctuary for an impressive diversity of mammals, raptors, invertebrates and over 100 species of migratory waterfowl and songbirds that breed and migrate through the refuge each year.

Getting There . . .
Rydell National Wildlife Refuge is located along U.S. Highway 2, approximately 60 miles east of East Grand Forks, between Erskine and Mentor, Minnesota. From U.S. highway 2, turn south on Polk County Road 210 and follow for approximately 2.5 miles to the refuge gate. Various directional signs are located along the route.

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These driving directions are provided as a general guide only. No representation is made or warranty given as to their content, road conditions or route usability or expeditiousness. User assumes all risk of use.

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Wildlife and Habitat

A portion of the area encompassing Rydell Refuge was historically protected from prairie wildfires by lakes to the south and west. This "fire-shadow" allowed trees to mature and create a great diversity of ecological communities. These diverse habitats support a variety of wildlife.

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Land for the refuge was purchased by the Richard King Mellon Foundation and donated to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a national wildlife refuge in 1992.

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Management Activities
Rydell National Wildlife Refuge has a primary goal of improving production of mallard, wood duck, redhead, ring-necked duck and Canada goose populations through a broad-based, diverse habitat management system. Associated migratory birds, endangered species and all resident wildlife benefit from grassland and wetland restoration and reforestation programs that are currently being undertaken. Over 170 wood duck boxes and 150 bluebird boxes have been erected and are actively maintained in order to provide habitat for cavity-nesting birds.

The refuge is situated in a unique "fire-shield" area of the region. Local lakes and wetlands diverted prairie wildfires and created an island of mixed maple-basswood and oak forest as well as prairie grassland and oak savannah habitat. One management goal is to connect existing fragments of remnant forest on the western part of the refuge to provide for larger habitat blocks for forest interior species.

To date, all restored 800 acres of acquired cropland has been planted to native prairie grassland, restored to wetland habitat, or converted to forest and savannah as woodland stock becomes available.

Game fish are propagated in a refuge lake and re-located to other Federal lands in the Midwest. Harmful invasive species, such as European buckthorn, spotted knapweed, and reed-canary grass are actively controlled by a combination of biological control using insects, fire management, and herbicide treatments to improve the quality of the native ecosystems.