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Hamden Slough
National Wildlife Refuge

male ruddy duck on the water
26624 North Tower Road
Detroit Lakes, MN   56501
E-mail: hamdenslough@fws.gov
Phone Number: 218-847-4431
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Many species of waterfowl, including ruddy ducks, rely on the shallow water and prairie habitat that has been restored on the refuge.
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Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuge

Eastern forest dramatically gives way to the western prairie at Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuge. Hardwood forests stretching from the Atlantic seaboard rapidly shift to the vast western prairie at this picturesque refuge. Prior to settlement, this diverse vegetation was attractive to wildlife, and the area teemed with waterfowl, upland birds, bison, wolves, and other prairie wildlife. When fully restored, the refuge will provide the largest contiguous block of wetland prairie habitat in the region, encompassing nearly 6,000 acres.

The station's objective is to restore 3,000 acres of wetlands and 2,250 acres of upland grass. This will provide resting and nesting cover for 219 species of migratory and nesting birds. Currently, many species of waterfowl, shorebirds, neotropical migratory songbirds, and birds of prey rely on the shallow water and prairie habitat that has been restored on the refuge.

During the last six years, refuge habitat restorations have resulted in a dramatic increase in waterfowl, shorebird and prairie songbird populations. This has generated opportunities for wildlife-dependent recreation and serves as an educational model for land and watershed stewardship. Approximately 50% of the private property within the refuge's future boundary has been acquired from willing sellers. Funding to acquire land and fully develop the refuge's infrastructure is expected to be near $10,000,000. Approximately 15-20 years of work is anticipated to complete the refuge.

Getting There . . .
The refuge is located northeast of Audubon, Minnesota. Visitors can get to the information kiosk by following the brown and white refuge signs on state, county, and township roads. The best route U.S. Hwy. 10 at Audubon is north on County Road #13 to downtown Audubon. Proceed east on County Road #104 for 1.3 miles, then north on County Road #104 for 0.75 miles to the south end of the refuge. Follow refuge signs and proceed 0.25 miles northwest on Township Road #440 to the refuge kiosk. The north portion of the refuge can be observed by following County Highway #14 west from U.S. Highway #59 just north of Callaway, Minnesota. County Highway #13 travels south off of County Highway #14 and provides visitors an apportunity to view the prairie wetland landscapes and wildlife of the refuge. The refuge headquarters is co-located with the Detroit Lakes Wetland Management Disrict office. The office is located 2 miles north of Detroit Lakes, MN, via U.S. Highway #59, then 1-1/2 miles east on County Road #131/North Tower Road.

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NOTE: When using this feature, you will be leaving the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service domain. We do not control the content or policies of the site you are about to visit. You should always check site policies before providing personal information or reusing content.

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

The refuge hosts a wide diversity of wildlife species, including: marsh and shorebirds, waterfowl, prairie nesters, and water birds like herons, egrets, and ibis.

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John James Audubon's niece heard about the wildlife abundance of the Hamden Lake area and visited the site in 1871.

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    Recreation and Education Opportunities
Environmental Education
Wildlife Observation
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Management Activities
The goal of Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuge is to re-establish almost 6,000 acres of prairie wetland habitat on the edge of the northern tallgrass prairie. Within the future boundary of the refuge, 280 wetlands will be re-established. Refuge staff have restored 235 wetlands since 1991.

Early restorations of wetlands and uplands have had a dramatic effect on migrating and nesting bird species. Bird diversity and abundance has spiraled upward, with a marked increase in shorebird species. Migrating waterfowl numbers have also exploded, with spectacular spring and fall gatherings since 1995.

The restoration of 112-acre Bisson Lake in 2000 has been highly attractive to wildlife and bird watchers. Restoration efforts there included 130 smaller wetlands and 700 upland acres adjacent to Bisson Lake.

Upland habitat restorations have been successful, with native grass seedings stimulated by managed fires. Burning in areas of remaining native grass has also stimulated many species of dormant prairie wildflowers. Wildflower displays in these small native stands have attracted visitors, who come to see previously unseen species. Wildflower seed is also mixed with native grass seedings to increase diversity. Increased plant diversity attracts additional insects, which deposit eggs and larva, providing a rich protein source for spring chicks and ducklings.