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Sand Lake
National Wildlife Refuge

A large flock of mallards lifts off from a wetland already teeming with other water birds.
39650 Sand Lake Drive
Columbia, SD   57433
E-mail: sandlake@fws.gov
Phone Number: 605-885-6320
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Between deep blue potholes of water and scattered pieces of wild prairie lies one of South Dakota's treasures, Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge.
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Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Congress established Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in 1935 as a refuge and breeding grounds for migratory birds and other wildlife. The Refuge has 21,498 acres of prime wildlife habitat consisting of open lakes and wetlands, grasslands, woodlands, and croplands. Famed for its spectacular concentrations of wildlife, Sand Lake NWR has been listed as one of the top 15 birding sites in the country. It is also a designated a Wetland of International Importance and a Globally Important Bird Area.

Sand Lake NWR is for people too. Each year more than 75,000 visitors come to the Refuge to appreciate its wildlife and reconnect with nature. Wildlife observation, education, photography, hunting, and fishing are all popular activities on the Refuge.

Getting There . . .
Sand Lake NWR is located in the northeast corner of South Dakota, 27 miles northeast of Aberdeen, South Dakota. To get to Sand Lake from Aberdeen, take State Highway 12 east 6 miles to Brown County Highway 16 at Bath Corner. Turn north onto Brown County 16 and follow brown directional signs. The Refuge Headquarters and visitor center is located on Brown County Highway 16 approximately 9 miles north of Columbia, South Dakota.

Get Google map and directions to this refuge/WMD from a specified address:

Your full starting address AND town and state OR zip code

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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 wetlands, marshes, open lakes, and grasslands of Sand Lake NWR are home to more than 266 bird species, 40 mammal species, and a variety of fishes, reptiles, and amphibians.

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The area surrounding Sand Lake was once a vast, rolling grassland interrupted only by the slow flowing James River.

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    Recreation and Education Opportunities
Environmental Education
Wildlife Observation
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Management Activities
Sand Lake NWR is managed for the benefit of wildlife. Management focuses on creating or improving habitat for resting and feeding migratory birds, nesting birds, and resident wildlife. Land management tools include water level manipulation, reseeding of native grassland, cooperative farming, and noxious weed control. Prescribed burning, grazing, and haying are used to mimic natural prairie processes as well as to control weeds.