|Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge|
The United States' largest tallgrass prairie and wetland reconstruction project will form the heart of the country’s newest gem—Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge. This site, located in northwestern Minnesota, will link 12 existing conservation areas, protect important habitat for migratory w...
Rydell National Wildlife Refuge
|Description: Rydell NWR sits between the flat Red River Valley floodplain and the rolling hardwood forest and lake region of Minnesota. Historically, the area was a small, forested island, protected from prairie wildfires by lakes to the south and west. This “fire shadow” allowed trees to mature. A maple-basswood forest developed, intermingled with oak savanna and open prairie.
At one time, at least 19 farmsteads, many of them log structures, were located on this refuge in northwestern Minnesota. Much of the woodland and grassland habitat was cleared for agriculture. Countless prairie potholes were drained.
Established in 1992 through a donation from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, Rydell NWR is a combination of maple/basswood/oak forest, wetlands, tallgrass prairie and bogs. For more than 15 years management has been returning the landscape to a more natural form and earlier state. As a result, 600 acres of prairie and 45 acres of maple/basswood forest have been restored.
The refuge’s purpose is to protect wildlife habitat and diversity, encourage waterfowl and other migratory bird production, and promote environmental education and recreation.
Today, the site is a mosaic of almost 2200 acres of wetlands, hardwood stands and tallgrass prairie. Once the domain of homesteaders, Rydell now supports a diversity of animals from wood ducks to black bears and is a haven for wildlife and people alike.
This site is also a stop on Minnesota’s Pine to Prairie Birding Trail.
Wildlife to Watch: While quieter in winter, from December to February, the refuge’s many resident species, including white-tailed deer, red fox, ruffed grouse, barred owl, white-breasted nuthatch, as well as downy and pileated woodpeckers, may be seen from the visitor center and trails.
Spring migration is in full swing in April and May, with up to 100 species seen in a day. Snow geese, tundra swans, northern pintails, and prairie falcons are passing through. Wood ducks, red-tailed hawks, eastern bluebirds, yellow warblers and red-winged blackbirds are returning to nest.
Trumpeter swans, a Minnesota’s threatened species, were re-introduced to the area prior to its becoming a refuge and now nest here each year. Bald eagles and osprey hunt on the site.
The refuge is full of wildlife families from June to July. Songbird and raptor nests are located along the trails. Mallard, wood duck, hooded merganser, Canada goose, and trumpeter swan broods are visible on the wetlands. White-tailed deer fawns appear in the prairie.
In September and October, the southward migration of songbirds and waterfowl occurs, with thousands of ducks gathering on the refuge’s wetlands and lakes. Resident wildlife, such as black bear, ruffed grouse, and white-tailed deer, are feeding heavily to store fat for the winter.
Gray wolves are occasionally seen. Resident long-tailed weasels, red foxes, river otters and beavers may be spotted too.
Special Tips: Public use is restricted to the seven miles of marked trails, five of which are hard-surfaced. The trails are open from one half hour before sunrise to sunset each day, except during scheduled deer hunts. Firearms are prohibited, except during special deer hunts.
Off-road vehicles, open ?res, camping, overnight parking and horseback riding are not allowed on the refuge. Dogs must be leashed at all times.
Other Activities: A historical log building is located on Tamarac Trail. Rydell also offers a variety of educational and recreational activities.
Ownership: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Size: 2120 acres
Closest Town: Erskine
Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing: