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National Wildlife Refuge

Grasses and prairie wildflowers blanket the rolling hills at Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge.  The grasses come in many hues, from dark green to golden brown.
8315 Hwy 8
Kenmare, ND   58746
E-mail: Lostwood@fws.gov
Phone Number: 701-848-2722
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Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge is an ocean of grasslands with wetlands scattered throughout the landscape.
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Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge

Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) lies in the heart of the Missouri Coteau region, an ancient glacial moraine area. Topography ranges from rolling to steep hills and is covered by mixed-grass prairie. The area is dotted with wetlands that are often called "potholes." At 26,904 acres, the Refuge contains a 5,577-acre Wilderness Area established in 1975.

Lostwood NWR has been designated a "Globally Important Bird Area" by the American Bird Conservancy. The Refuge provides breeding habitat for the Great Plains population of the threatened piping plover. Also, many declining grassland-associated bird species, such as Baird's sparrow, benefit from the intensive grassland management programs on the Refuge. Using prescribed burning and grazing, Refuge staff reduce encroachment by exotic plants and woody vegetation. The native mixed-grass community is slowly being restored.

Getting There . . .
The Lostwood NWR headquarters is located 22 miles north of Stanley, North Dakota, along State Highway 8. Stanley is located 55 miles west of Minot on State Highway 2.

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Wildlife and Habitat

Native grasslands are America's most endangered habitat. Over 700 plant species have been recorded in this region; 100 of these species are grasses.

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Historians, archaeologists, and ethnologists believe Paleo-Indians were using this and other areas of North Dakota 10,000 years ago; there are the 200 tipi rings scattered over the Refuge.

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Management Activities
The habitat management objective on the Refuge is preservation of the prairie ecosystem and its associated native species. The goal is to renovate the grassland habitat so that it mirrors conditions found in the early 1900s. One of the main causes of habitat degradation, in addition to fire suppression, is past agricultural use. Today, grassland habitats are managed with a combination of rotational grazing, prescribed burning, and idling grasslands that mimic historical processes of wildfires and bison grazing.

Prescribed burning is primarily used to stop the spread of woody vegetation that has increased with years of successful fire suppression. The many clumps of aspen now on the Refuge are a perfect example of this encroachment.

The livestock rotational grazing system replicates the historical effects of bison. This intensive, short duration system is directed primarily at reducing the exotic cool season sod-forming grasses (e.g. smooth bromegrass and Kentucky bluegrass) while increasing the vigor of native grasses.

In combination, burning and grazing stress both the exotic grasses and woody plants. This confers a competitive advantage to native species. Typically, one-third or more of the Refuge is left idle on an annual basis. Employing grazing, burning, and idling over time and space maximizes a mosaic of habitat types and benefits native plant and animal species.

The noxious weed, leafy spurge, is another difficult exotic plant that is a management problem on the Refuge. It requires treatment beyond fire and grazing. Current control techniques include introducing spurge-eating flea beetles, limited herbicide application, and mowing.