The Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge south of Sumner will open to the public on March 6th. The refuge is closed annually from late October to the first Saturday of March to allow for undisturbed habitat for migrating and wintering waterfowl.
The visitor center will be closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. Only the main office will be open, and it will be open to a limited capacity.
Visitors can fish at the 2,000-acre Silver Lake, bird watch, take a drive on the Auto Tour Route, or hike through the woods. There is a nature trail by the visitor center with an overlook and scopes near the Swan Lake marsh. The refuge is also open to antler shed hunting as well as mushroom and berry picking for personal use.
Refuge Manager Steve Whitson says there are “great wildlife viewing opportunities” with hundreds of trumpeter swans on the refuge, and snow goose numbers can reach into the hundreds of thousands this time of year. Different species of waterfowl are migrating back north for the summer in March and early April. Whitetail deer can be seen in the early morning or late evening. Multiple species of shorebirds stop at Swan Lake in the habitat mudflat areas on migration routes in mid-April through May.