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Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge
Big Stone NWR is located along the Minnesota River near the South Dakota border. Straddling the headwaters of the Minnesota River in extreme west-central Minnesota, Big Stone NWR is within the heart of the tallgrass prairie's historic range.<br><br>Today, less than one-percent of tallgrass prairi...
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Salt Lake WMA
Description: Salt Lake, on the border of Minnesota and South Dakota in Lac Qui Parle County, is Minnesota's only alkaline wetland. The water in Salt Lake is one-third as salty as sea water. Although it's not one of the largest lakes in the region, it is an oasis for waterbirds in western Minnesota. Salt Lake is recognized by the State as a site with “outstanding biological diversity” and as one of the state’s top birding spots, according to the Minnesota Ornithologists' Union. Each spring, shorebirds, waterfowl and other waterbirds stop at Salt Lake to rest and feast while making their way to northern breeding grounds.

Wildlife to Watch: Conservatively, more than 150 species of birds have been identified on Salt Lake. The lake is particularly attractive to shorebirds such as willets, yellowlegs, and sandpipers. It has one of the few Minnesota breeding records for the American avocet. These birds normally nest in the saline prairie wetlands of the Dakotas and Canada. Salt Lake is one of the few places in Minnesota where a suitable habitat exists for them. Wilson's phalaropes nest here. They are particularly entertaining shorebirds that spin atop the water to stir up invertebrates to eat.

While shorebird migration may be the highlight at the Salt Lake WMA, other species offer wildlife viewing from late spring through fall. You might find western grebes, American white pelicans, tundra swans, Hudsonian godwits and marbled godwits and other shorebirds on or near the lake. Eared grebes are common summer residents. You can see these small grebes constructing nests on vegetative mats in the lake. The WMA also attracts tundra swans and snow geese.

Public upland areas within the WMA area provide a potential habitat for loggerhead shrikes. Open grassy areas with scattered trees in Lac Qui Parle County offer opportunities to observe these uncommon birds. Rare prairie butterflies also have been found on the WMA.

Special Tips: A good place in high water times for migrating grebes and ducks, in low water years it can be exceptional for shorebirds. Late summer is better than spring for shorebird because lower water levels then create attractive feeding opportunities.

Hunting is allowed.

Other Activities: In spring, birders from around the country visit Salt Lake for the annual Salt Lake Bird Watching Weekend, held on the third or fourth weekend of April.

Ownership: MN DNR 
Size: Salt Lake WMA 780 acres Salt Lake 312 acres 
Closest Town: Marietta


Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing:

Yellowlegs - photo by USFWS
Please use Map Link below

Driving Directions:
From Marietta, go south for 3 miles on CSAH 7. Then drive 1 mile west on a gravel township road to a “T” intersection that overlooks Salt Lake. Continue south (left) for about ¼ mile to access parking area and viewing deck.

Map Link

Salt Lake WMA : Wildlife Viewing Area