Lake Mason National Wildlife Refuge consists of 3 separate parcels: the North Unit, Willow Creek Unit and Lake Mason Unit. The history behind the refuge is unique; easements were signed in 1937 to provide an area for nesting migratory birds. However, it wasn't until 1941 before the area became a refuge. Acquisition of the lands did not occur until 1959 when 11,740 acres of scattered Bankhead-Jones lands (lands which were originally homesteaded but later ceded back to the government after attempts to homestead failed) were transferred from the Bureau of Land Management to the USFWS. Subsequent management of the lands for wildlife was impossible due to the scattered nature of the lands until recently, when land exchanges created 3 contiguous parcels.
Lake Mason-North Unit: This unit is 5,323 acres in size and consists mostly of rolling grasslands interspersed with sage brush/grassland bottoms. Several small, ephemeral ponds along Jones Creek provide water sources for wildlife and livestock (when grazed to enhance wildlife habitat). Wildlife commonly observed include long-billed curlews, upland sand pipers, sage grouse, pronghorn antelope and a variety of raptors. Elk have been known to travel through the refuge enroute to or from the Little Snowy Mountains to the west.
Lake Mason-Willow Creek Unit: This 2,160 acre unit is managed for the benefit of mountain plovers, a species of concern within the state. As such, management objectives include maintaining the shortgrass community through prescribed burning and grazing, as the mountain plover is attracted to early seral grassland communities. Other wildlife observed here include pronghorn antelope, long-billed curlews, prairie dogs and many neotropical migrants adapted to shortgrass prairie environments.
Directions: Lake Mason National Wildlife Refuge is located eight miles northwest of Roundup.
Lake Mason National Wildlife Refuge
Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, Lewistown, MT 59457
- Bird Watching
- Wildlife Viewing