- "Des Lacs" is french meaning "of the lakes." Early trappers originally called the area "Riviere des Lacs," literally, "River of the Lakes," which aptly describes it's prominent features. Des Lacs NWR is a 28 mile long river valley with 3 natural lakes.
The refuge was established in the 1930's "dust bowl era" and original facilities were constructed by CCC to benefit waterfowl production and protection. The physiography was created by glacial meltwater cutting through a vast ground moraine known as the Drift Plain.
Uplands are gently rolling Drift Plain to steep slopes that drop 50-125' to the river valley, with numerous wooded draws and coulees that drain the Drift Plain. The river valley does not have a constant streamflow but is intermittent with most runoff occurring during spring snow melt period. The upland vegetation is characterized as mid-grass prairie.
Des Lacs is now well known for spectacular snow goose populations up to 400-500,000 geese in the fall. The local community of Kenmare hosts the annual "Goosefest" in celebration of the fall migration in October.
The refuge is located 90 miles east of Montana along the border with the Saskatchewan, Canada.