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Natural Areas of North Dakota

Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge

GIF--Location of Natural Area


Robert Johnson

Directions: From Medina, 10 miles north, 3 miles west, 2 miles north, 4.5 miles west and 3 miles south.

Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge (NWR consists of 4,385 acres located on the Missouri Coteau, a principle physiographic region of the Prairie Pothole Region. Chase Lake itself comprises 2,503 acres with the remaining refuge acreage consisting of native and tame grasslands and small wetlands.


The topography is steep to rolling with the lake being the lowest point on the refuge. Chase Lake has no outlet, is highly alkaline and supports no aquatic vertebrate life. The two islands in the lake are home to the refuge's primary attraction, its thousands of nesting white pelicans, gulls, and cormorants. The white pelican breeding colony at Chase Lake numbers between 10,000 and 12,000 birds and is the largest colony in North America.

Chase Lake NWR was declared a wilderness area in 1975. The entire refuge except for 230 acres southwest of a Bureau of Reclamation power line is included in the wilderness area. The refuge is managed by the use of prescribed burning. Burns are conducted as needed to maintain habitat quality and vegetation diversity.

Facilities: None

Administration and Contact: Personnel from the Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge administer the Chase Lake NWR which is unmanned and 42 miles from Arrowwood. Vehicle use is prohibited on the refuge. Walking access is allowed anywhere along the refuge boundary. Access to the islands is not permitted. For further information contact: Manager, Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge, R. Rt. 1, Pingree, ND 58476.

ROBERT JOHNSON is wetlands manager of the Arrowwood Wetlands Management District in Pingree, ND.

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