- Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge, originally named Mud Lake Migratory Waterfowl Refuge, was established in 1937 primarily for waterfowl production and maintenance. Located in eastern Marshall County, the contiguous 61,500 acres are situated in the aspen parkland region of northwest Minnesota. This area is the transition zone between the coniferous forests, tall grass prairie, and the prairie pothole region of the Red River Valley. The refuge lies in the bed of glacial Lake Agassiz resulting in a very flat terrain. This area was a paradise for waterfowl and other wildlife before man made changes to the land.
In 1910, an extensive drainage project was approved by Marshall County. By 1933, approximately one million dollars had been spent on the Judicial Ditch 11 system. The Mud Lake area had been drained and become so tax delinquent that Marshall County was protected from bankruptcy by the state legislature. The State negotiated its transfer to the refuge system in 1937.
Today, Agassiz is composed of 40,000 acres of wetlands, 10,000 acres of shrublands, 7,000 acres of forestland, 4250 acres of grassland, and 150 acres of cropland. In 1976, 4,000 acres were established as Wilderness, otherwise refuge habitat is actively managed.
A diversity of wildlife species inhabit the Refuge including 280 bird species, 49 mammals, 12 amphibians and 9 reptiles. Blue-winged teal, mallards, ring-necked and ruddy ducks are the most common waterfowl nesters. A large Franklin's gull colony includes 20,000 breeding pairs. Agassiz has the distinction of being one of only two refuges with resident packs of eastern gray wolves in the lower 48 states. The resident moose herd of approximately 110 animals has long attracted refuge visitors from many states and countries.
Wildlife viewing, a self-guided auto tour route, a walking trail and deer hunting are a few activities that the 25,000 annual visitors enjoy at the Refuge.
The Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge is located in eastern Marshall County in northwest Minnesota.