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State of Minnesota Parks

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Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge
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Marshall County Road 7
Middle River, Minnesota   56737
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Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge is located in northwest Minnesota. Packs of wolves, moose, waterfowl, and 280 species of birds make this refuge a wildlife wonderland. The refuge, originally named Mud Lake Migratory Waterfowl Refuge, was established in 1937 primarily for waterfowl production and maintenance. Located in eastern Marshall County, the contiguous 61,500 acres are situated in the aspen parkland region of northwest Minnesota. This area is a transition zone, where coniferous forests, tallgrass prairie, and the prairie pothole region of the Red River Valley meet. The refuge lies in the bed of glacial Lake Agassiz, resulting in a very flat terrain, and is dominated by expansive wetlands. <P>A diversity of wildlife species inhabit the refuge, including 287 bird species, 49 mammals, 12 amphibians, and nine reptiles. A large Franklin's gull colony of approximately 20,000 breeding pairs is located on the refuge. Agassiz is one of only a few refuges with resident packs of gray wolves in the lower 48 states. The resident moose herd of approximately 100 animals has long attracted refuge visitors from many states and countries. In 1976, 4,000 acres of the refuge were designated a Wilderness Area. Each year over 20,000 visitors enjoy wildlife viewing on Agassiz Refuge's self-guided auto tour route and hiking trails. <P>Historically, this area was a paradise for waterfowl and other wildlife. In 1910, in an effort to improve farming operations, an extensive drainage project was approved by Marshall County. By 1933, approximately one million dollars had been spent trying to drain the Mud Lake area. Farming proved unsuccessful. Marshall County become so tax delinquent that the State Legislature protected the County from bankruptcy but, in return, retained the right to use the lands for conservation purposes. The State negotiated the land transfer to the National Wildlife Refuge System in 1937. <P>Today, Agassiz is composed of 40,100 acres of wetlands, 10,000 acres of shrublands, 7,000 acres of forestland, 4250 acres of grassland, and 150 acres of cropland. The Wilderness Area encompasses one of the most westerly extensions of black spruce-tamarack bog in Minnesota. Two lakes in the area were formed by deep peat fires which occurred prior to settlement of the area. <P>
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The refuge headquarters is located on Marshall County Road 7. From Thief River Falls, Minnesota, take Highway 32 North for 12 miles to the town of Holt. At Holt, turn east onto Marshall County Road 7 for 11 miles. The refuge headquarters is located on the left (north) side of the road. <P>

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State of Minnesota Parks