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Grays Lake Ecosystem
Grays Lake Habitat
Last updated July 1, 2003

Grays Lake lies within the Caribou Range of the Rocky Mountains in southeast Idaho, and is at the western edge of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. At the heart of the valley is a large (22,000 ac) shallow montane marsh, composed primarily of hardstem bulrush and cattail with scattered small ponds. This wetland system provides important habitat for breeding sandhill cranes, trumpeter swans, Franklin's gulls, white-faced ibis, dabbling and diving ducks, a variety of shore- and grassland birds, as well as habitat for molting and fall-staging waterfowl and cranes. The area is significant for its high density of breeding sandhill cranes and as a reintroduction site for trumpeter swans. The rich wet meadow edges of the marsh provide foraging and nesting habitat for a diversity of water birds each year.

Grays Lake National Wildlife Refuge encompasses much of the richest wetland habitat within the valley. It was established in 1965 to protect and restore habitat for waterfowl production, sandhill cranes, and other wildlife. In the 1970s and 1980s the refuge served as the focus of an effort to establish a second wild population of endangered whooping cranes. Currently, the refuge's goals are to enhance natural ecosystem functions to support a diversity of water birds and other wildlife.

Grays Lake has been the focus of numerous research studies, past and present. Studies have sought to understand factors affecting sandhill crane populations and breeding water birds, influences of habitat management practices, amphibian populations, geological factors, and other aspects of the area. Overall, we seek a better understanding of the ecosystem function and biological diversity of this rich montane wetland. This web site presents information on current and previous research and information on various aspects of the area so researchers, birders, and others interested in the region can better understand its value and function.

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For more information about this site, please contact:
Jane Austin
Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
8711 37th Street SE
Jamestown, ND 58401

Phone: 701-253-5510
Fax:   701-253-5553

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