National Wildlife Refuge
|8588 Route 148
Marion, IL 62959
Phone Number: 618-997-3344
|Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
|Wintering numbers of Canada Geese on the refuge can peak at 200,000.|
Continued . . . The earliest frontiersmen came into the area in the late 1700s. By the 1940s, homesteaders had established farms throughout the area that now makes up the refuge. Utilizing the abundance of game, homesteaders dined on buffalo, deer, quail, and passenger pigeons.
By the 1930s, land that once supported wildlife was depleted through extensive agriculture and logging. In 1936, the Resettlement Administration acquired 32,000 acres of this depleted land along the Crab Orchard Creek which became known as the Crab Orchard Creek Project. Original plans called for the construction of three lakes for recreational use and as an industrial water supply.
Crab Orchard Lake was completed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1939, and approximately 3,000 acres were planted with almost 3.5 million trees. The United States' involvement in World War II changed the project's ownership to the War Department and delayed the construction of the other two lakes. The Illinois Ordnance Plant, one of the largest ammunition producers during the war, was established on Crab Orchard Lake. The plant closed soon after the war.
The entire project was transferred to the Department of the Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service for the establishment of Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge on August 5, 1947. Finally, in 1951, the WPA and the Soil Conservation Service completed Little Grassy Lake, and in 1959, Devils Kitchen Lake was completed.
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