Saturday, May 24, 2014

Valentine National Wildlife Refuge

Our last stop of the day for our eventful memorial day weekend Saturday was at the Valentine National Wildlife Refuge. This refuge was established in 1935 and consists of 72,000 acres of native prairie and lakes. Mark Lindvall has managed this refuge since 1985 until his recent retirement on April 1st of 2014.

The refuge was established during the great depression due to the high populations of migratory birds that stop to rest in the many lakes of the area. Mark gave us a brief background on their fight to manage invasive species including plants such as canada thistle and fish like the common carp which are present in the lakes. Some management practices include renting areas of the refuge to nearby ranchers for much of the year to manage grasses as well as implementing controlled burning in some of the area for it's beneficial effect on regenerating native vegetation.

After talking and learning about the refuge's management practices and challenges we took a beautiful scenic drive through the majority of the refuge next to many of the large lakes and then hiked up a trail to a look out point where we could see for miles in all directions. It was a beautiful cap to our very busy day.

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