Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge


The grounds of Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge contain much history. In 1880, a small town was developed, named Steedman, in honor of a Grayson County judge. A majority of the citizens were farmers. By 1909 the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Rail railroad arrived at the small town. Steedman was soon renamed to Hagerman, after railroad attorney James Hagerman. Hagerman was slowly growing, the small town that once had a post office, now has a railroad, school, cotton gin, several small businesses, and a church. In the late 1930’s, the Army Corps of Engineers purchased the lands of Hagerman for a large upcoming project, Denison Dam. The people of the Hagerman started to leave the area when the plans for Denison Dam would cause Lake Texoma to engulf the town. In 1944, the largest earth filled dam, at the time, was completed and Hagerman was now underwater. Two years later in 1946, Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge established. The discovery of oil and gas on the refuge in 1951 lead oil pumps and accesses to be constructed on the grounds, due to private parties still retaining ownership of the mineral rights.


Hagerman has an array of ecosystems that encompass the refuge.

  • Prairie lands provide several shelters and feeding grounds for many species. This prairie mostly consists little bluestem, big bluestem, Indiangrass, and switchgrass. The prairie is always vulnerable due to encroaching cedar, oak, locust trees, and other large growing plans but efforts by the refuge are in place to mitigate this issue.
  • The forest, consisting of mostly of Blackjack and Post Oaks, inhabit much of the perimeter of the refuge. Creeks within the forest support black willow and other riparian plant species. Many species claim the forest as their habitat as it provides plenty of food, water, and shelter. Common animals found in this forest include squirrels, white-tailed deer, various songbirds, and wild turkey.
  • Wetlands are artificially created at Hagerman to increase diversity and provide habitat to some migrating species of birds. These wetlands are modified with the use of Moist Soil Units, which can increase or decrease water in the area. This habitat provides nesting grounds and food sources for various bird species, such as shore birds, blue heron, great egret, and waterfowl.
  • Croplands are plowed by Hagerman staff and volunteers. Mainly planted in the fall to prepare for winter migrating birds, the abundance of native winter wheat entices snow geese and other birds to land and stay at the refuge. This is beneficial to the community as well as it prevents wintering birds from habiting other farmlands.
  • The Lake is a large attraction to many visitors. It provides habitat for many kinds of shorebirds, waterfowl, and fish. Lake Texoma was one of the largest man-made lakes when it was created in 1944. It is able to support a self-sustaining stiped bass population.

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