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Driftless Area
National Wildlife Refuge

lavender northern monkshood blossom and foliage
401 Business Hwy 18 N
McGregor, IA   52157
E-mail: driftless@fws.gov
Phone Number: 563-873-3423
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
The refuge protects habitat for the Federally threatened northern monkshood.
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Driftless Area National Wildlife Refuge

The "driftless area" of the Upper Midwest derives its name from the fact that it was unglaciated during the most recent glacial event about 12,000 years ago. Glaciers surrounded but did not pass over this land.

Driftless Area National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1989 to protect the Federally endangered Iowa Pleistocene snail and threatened northern monkshood plant. Habitats that support these species are also home to other glacial-relict snail and plant species that require specific cool moist conditions to live. These species occur only on algific talus slopes or moist sandstone cliffs. In these fragile places, constant cold air exiting from a cliff or talus slope creates a unique microclimate, one that may be considerably different from areas only meters away.

The refuge is currently 775 acres, consisting of nine units in four counties in northeastern Iowa. When the proposed acquisition is completed, at least 70 percent of the known northern monkshood population and 75 percent of the known population of the Iowa Pleistocene snail will be protected. The ultimate goal is recovery and removal of both species from the Federal list of endangered and threatened species.

Getting There . . .
The refuge office is located at the McGregor District of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. The office and visitor contact station are located along Business Hwy 18 North, between the towns of Marquette and McGregor, Iowa.

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Wildlife and Habitat

Although refuge land parcels are small, ranging from 6 acres to 208 acres, they reflect the habitat diversity of the Driftless area, with coldwater streams, springs, cliffs, prairie, hardwood forest, and deep valleys.

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The Iowa Pleistocene snail has survived since the ice age and contains much more history than the refuge. However, the Driftless Area National Wildlife Refuge is now making history by preserving this animal's unique habitat for all Americans.

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Management Activities
Coldwater streams, cliffs, and deep valleys create diverse habitats on the refuge. These habitats are fragile and protected from disturbance on the refuge. Surrounding habitats are restored to native vegetation where appropriate.