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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Nongame Birds, Small Mammals, Herptiles, Fishes:
Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge, 1995-1996

Sand Lake NWR is named "Wetland of International Importance"

Sand Lake NWR is the first U.S. prairie pothole refuge to be honored as a "Wetland of International Importance" by the Department of the Interior and the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance.

The convention, more commonly known as the Ramsar Convention after its place of adoption in Iran in 1971, is the only international agreement dedicated to the worldwide protection of a particular ecosystem. Currently, 108 nations subscribe to the treaty goal of stemming the loss of wetlands. Sand Lake joins 907 other sites in the world designated to have international value and is the only one in the prairie pothole region of the United States.

Sand Lake provides critical nesting and staging habitat for many bird species. The number of migrating waterfowl using the complex often exceeds hundreds of thousands of snow geese, mallards, wood ducks, and Canada geese in spring and fall. The area hosts the world's largest nesting colony of Franklin's gulls.

"Thousands of people from birdwatchers to anglers and hunters to hikers and school groups visit Sand Lake refuge each year, "according to Director Jamie Rappaport Clark of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. "Its popularity for outdoor recreation gives the Service and its partners a great opportunity to help refuge visitors understand how wetlands impact their lives."

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