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Evaluation acquisition and construction of Fish Springs NWR
Lynn Greenwalt (now retired) was the mastermind who took a large wetland and created Fish Springs NWR. His continued service and dedication to Fish and Wildlife led him to become the Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service
The area of Fish Springs had been studied for many years but was turned down for about 25 years before being considered as a site for a refuge.
November 17, 1934: The Fish Springs area was visited by Geo. E. Holman, District Agent, Chief Biological Survey, for the purpose of determining whether it would be suitable as a game and bird reservation.
27, 1936: Charles C. Sperry, Surveyor submitted “Duck Food
Report on Fish Springs Juab County Utah
to Lee Laythe, Regional Director, stating that Fish Springs should not be recommended as a waterfowl refuge.
December 14, 1938: After a field trip to Fish Springs, J.C. Salyer & Brice McBride of the Bureau of Biological Survey, Lee Kay and Earl Clyde of the Utah State & Game Dept, and Dean Brayton, representing the Fish Springs Ranch Company, concluded that Fish Springs did not lend itself to extensive development, and any development work carried on to improve the marsh would be rather expensive due to the isolation of the area.
February 9, 1939: Brice McBride, Hydraulic Engineer, Bureau of Biological Survey, submitted the opinion that the cost of developing the available water supply would be excessive for the small amount of water surface that could be made available.
September 1, 1941: Reuel Janson surveyed the area and submitted the following opinion: Fish Spring marshes possess considerable qualification for a waterfowl refuge. Two possible drawbacks are the scarcity of large areas of open water and the lack of suitable nesting cover surrounding the marshes.
A report was submitted by Wayne Gueswel, Bear River NWR on December 9,
1958 concerning trips made to Fish Springs on June 30, and again on July
4, 1958. At this time Fish Springs is referred to as the “proposed
refuge” and their purpose of the trips were to conduct waterfowl nesting
and brook surveys, to start a vegetative cover-type map, and to start bird
and mammal check lists for the area.
Fish Spring was purchased in parcels from different sources:
1. March 12, 1959: 2,160 acres from The Fish Springs Livestock and Fur Company.
2. March 10, 1959: 160 acres from Charles and Beulah Walker.
( It was subject to the lifetime residency of James Harrison, to reside on the tract in his present home.)
3. March 12, 1959: 1,454.82 acres from the State of
4.1960 14097 acres were withdrawn from existing public domains by public land order.
5.1961 120 acres were withdrawn from existing public domains by public land order.
Total acquisition cost was $93,324.88
In 1959, Fish Springs became a temporary satellite of Bear River NWR. Lynn Greenwalt, the first Fish Spring NWR manager and his wife moved into a trailer in the latter part of the year. There were 2 trailers – one for living quarters and one for the temporary office headquarters, which were powered by a 1.5 KVA gas generator. Water was provided from a drilled well. Dugway Proving Grounds installed a 50 watt FM radio transmitter/receiver. Shortly after, a 7 KVA gas generator, a pressure water system, and a sewer system with cesspool were installed.
1959 temporary headquarter site looking west. The two trailers at right are
as living quarters and office space. The one at left is used by regional office personnel.
July 1, 1960, Fish Springs was no longer a satellite
of Bear River NWR. During 1960 the staff had expanded to the refuge manager and
one temporary wildlife aid. The topographic mapping of the marshland which was
the foundation for the development of the refuge master plan was completed on
January 13, 1960. Mr. Greenwalt, the manager, stayed in Albuquerque, then the
Regional Office, from February 5 through March 31, six weeks, to work on the
completion of the Master Plan for the Physical and Biological Development of
the Refuge. Fish Springs NWR was one of the first refuges in the nation to be
developed according to this type of plan.
In spite of extremely cold weather and the formation of thick ice elsewhere in the marsh, the warm waters of South Spring produce large quantities of aquatic vegetation. Most prominent of the aquatics are Spiny Niaid, here held by Lynn Greenwalt, and Coontail, displayed by son Mark.
This master plan consisted of two parts – the Headquarters Development, which would consist of Phase I and Phase II, and the Marsh Development, which would consist of Phase I, Phase II and Phase III.
I of the Headquarters Development: In 1961 the Ralph Child
Construction Co. of Springville, UT was awarded the contract for construction
on 2 residences, 1 service building, 1 two-car garage and one power house at
the cost of $81,212. On December 1, 1961, the Bureau of
Engineering accepted the completed buildings.
Phase I of the Marsh Development contract was
awarded to Hunter-Saucerman Construction,
Excavation of main canal and drain somewhere near structure #10
Phase II of Headquarters Development: In 1962 Wenco Construction of Cedar City, UT was awarded the bid for construction for $102,999. Two additional residences, 1 two-car garage, a guest quarters, a 7-stall equipment storage building were built. A domestic water supply tank and water and sewage lines were included. This concluded headquarters development.
Phase II of the Marsh Development contract was awarded for the low bid of $108,000 to Ford and Gregory Construction Co. of Smithfield, UT. Work began on March 12, 1962 and included construction of pools “A” (now Avocet), and “C” (now Curlew), and their related structures, adding some 1,500 surface acres of habitat to the more than 400 surface acres provided by the Harrison Pool. Phase II added nearly 5 miles of dikes and 9 additional water control structures to the existing refuge. The gravelling of the 15.2 miles of interior roads and dikes was completed on January 23, 1963, with a total of 32,670 cubic yards of gravel.
Construction of new water control structure.
Phase III of the Marsh Development contract
was awarded to Dewsnup and Curtis Construction Company in the summer of
1963. Phase III will create “E” (Egret) pool, “I” (Ibis) pool, “G”
(Gadwall) pool, “J” (Shoveler) pool, “D” (Pintail) pool and Mallard
pool. By early fall of 1963, the Dewsnup & Curtis CC. had
fallen behind and by mid-October the bonding company stepped in and forced
Dewsnup to relinquish his contract. The remainder of the contract was
awarded to Ford & Gregory Co, of
Post Development: Since the major development phases from 1959 through 1964, other improvements have been made as needed. Lawns were planted, sprinkler systems installed, trees and shrubs were planted around the headquarters and residence areas. Additional storage areas and maintenance buildings were constructed. The old Thomas Ranch site was developed into a visitor recreation area, where today the trees, picnic tables and toilet facilities provide a comfortable spot to have lunch or check out the waterfowl on the observation pool.
today centers around continual maintenance and upkeep of the roads, dikes,
springs, equipment, and buildings. Waterfowl is monitored and data
recorded. Control of invasive vegetation is always on-going.
Last Updated: May 9, 2011