Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
|Prairie Smoke is a typical wild flower in the tall grass prairie of the Sheyenne National Grasslands|
Tewaukon National Wildlife Refuge, Englevale Slough, Kellys Slough and Prairie Chicken Wildlife Management Areas, are excellent sites for birding. Fort Ransom, Turtle River and Icelandic state parks preserve beautiful examples of native prairie riverbottom forests.
Today native mixed-grass prairie makes up about 16 percent, with lakes
and wetlands composing another six percent, of the surface area in this vast
region west of the Red River Valley. Sullys Hill National Game Preserve, along
the forested edge of Devils Lake, offers walking trails and wildlife viewing
for a nice day trip. Forested areas near the Pembina River (Cavalier County,
Pembina Hills, and Jay V. Wessel WMAs) provide abundant wildlife viewing opportunities
including deer, elk and moose. Lonetree WMA, Arrowwood, J. Clark Salyer, and
Des Lacs national wildlife refuges all provide unique hunting and wildlife viewing
Due to its rocky and wetland studded terrain, nearly 55 percent of the
native prairie and wetlands in this region remain intact. During the spring
and summer this region of the state, America's duck factory, literally explodes
with waterfowl and shorebirds. Long Lake and Lostwood national wildlife refuges,
and Chase Lake WMA are must-see stops for birders.
Just under 50 percent of the Coteau Slope remains in native prairie and
wetlands. Audubon National Wildlife Refuge, as well as Audubon, Arena Lake and
McKenzie Slough WMAs, offer good hunting and bird watching opportunities.
Of the 350 miles of Missouri River in North Dakota, about 95 miles remain
free-flowing and unimpeded by dams (70 miles between Bismarck and Garrison Dam
and 25 miles upstream from Williston). Due to elimination of periodic flooding
as a result of the Garrison and Oahe dams, the gallery cottonwood forests that
Lewis and Clark knew so well are now being replaced by aspen, ash, elm, and
oaks. Those interested in seeing the remaining vestiges of this unique forest
community should focus on Cross Ranch State Park, Fort Mandan County Park, Fort
Union and Knife River Indian Villages national historic sites, and Smith Grove,
Trenton, and Lewis and Clark WMAs. Fort Stevenson and Lake Sakakawea state parks
and Oahe WMA, although affected by the dams, provide ample recreational opportunities
along the river.
About 27 percent of the unglaciated mixed and short-grass prairie, known
as the Missouri Slope, remains in its native state (13 percent native prairie,
12 percent alkaline and barren clay pan flats, and two percent wetlands). Schnell
Recreational Area, Killdeer Mountains WMA and portions of the Little Missouri
National Grasslands, in and of themselves, are well worth a weekend camping
trip. Sweet Briar and Indian Creek WMAs provide good fishing and hunting opportunities.