|Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge|
Tamarac lies in the heart of one of the most diverse vegetative transition zones in North America, where northern hardwood forests, coniferous forests and the tall grass prairie converge. This diversity of habitat brings with it a wealth of wildlife, both woodland and prairie species.
Burgen Lake Prairie WMA
|Description: Burgen Lake is located in an area of low human habitation, so it’s perfect for getting away from it all. There are no amenities for the traveler here, but what makes this site unique is that it’s home to both wetland and wet prairie species. More than two thousand acres provides ample space to explore and pursue wildlife watching opportunities. Still, wildlife management areas like this one are critical for grassland birds that have lost habitat and led to declining populations of many species. Fire, in the form of prescribed burns, help maintain prairie plants and dependent wildlife species.
In addition, there is an upland area with mixed deciduous and conifer trees and the WMA is bordered on the north by Huntersville State Forest. These woodlands offer different habitat and harbor another array of birds and animals. Hikers, horseback riders, campers and canoeists on the Crow Wing River find the woods and waterways ideal, but sometimes challenging, for outdoor pursuits.
Wildlife to Watch: This unit has a remnant population of prairie chickens, but you’ll have to look closely and have binoculars in hand. If you visit in spring, it is possible to witness their elaborate mating rituals. Such an experience is a rare treat and to be sure, will take some planning and patience.
At sunrise, search out open areas on the flat lands where the courtship areas, known as “leks” or “booming grounds”, may be found. Sometimes the leks will be in places that have been burned through management. Should you discover the right spot and are nearly motionless; it will be spectacular to watch males drumming their feet in stylized dances and emitting a booming call that may be heard for more than a mile on quiet mornings.
Secretive and shy Virginia rails and other marsh birds live here, but will be a bit harder to hear or see. Your chances will increase if you visit on an early summer evening when courtship and territorial calls are sounding.
Bald eagles and broad-winged hawks frequent the area. On Burgen Lake, look for ducks and other waterfowl, especially during migratory times. Songbirds of the wetland and prairie may be spotted too. Listen to the ubiquitous “oak-la-ree” songs of red-winged blackbirds in spring and early summer.
Watch for white-tailed deer—they are common. Black bears amble through the area, although you will be lucky if you see one. Enjoy, but keep your distance and do not disturb these large gentle animals. When wandering on the gravel back roads, it is not impossible to spot a wolf crossing or trotting down the road. Look for beaver, muskrats and mink in and around the lake. A loud smack of a tail on the water may startle you. It’s a sign you’ve intruded, but not to worry, beavers don’t attack.
Special Tips: Spring is best for attempting to get in on prairie chicken mating. Give the wildlife manager a call ahead of time to find out if any action has been reported. Extensive stretches of brush and willow swamp, as well as peatland, make some of this WMA difficult to travel. Take a detailed map and compass/GPS unit with you and pay attention to time. Bring insect repellent, a hat and water to drink.
Other Activities: If you visit Huntersville State Forest, be aware and respectful of private property within the woodland.
Ownership: MN DNR
Size: 2281 acres
Closest Town: Sebeka/Nimrod
Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing: