The Des Lacs N.W.R. extends for 28 miles along the Des Lacs River Valley in Ward and Burke Counties. Early trappers called this area "river of the lakes". Established in 1935, the 19,544 acre refuge includes 3 natural lakes and several marsh units that total approximately 5700 acres. The refuge also features upland mixed-grass prairie and numerous wooded draws. The refuge is an important waterfowl breeding area and also hosts large numbers of migrant waterfowl. The endangered Whooping Crane is a regular visitor on and around the refuge.
Major threats include insufficient resources for land management, flooding issues, and pollution from runoff of adjacent agricultural areas.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.