U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service logo A Unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System
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San Bernardino
National Wildlife Refuge

San Bernadino NWR affords protection for over 315 bird species, 66 mammal species, and 55 reptile and amphibian species. (USFWS photo by William R. Radke)
P.O. Box 3509
Douglas, AZ   85608
E-mail: Chris_Lohrengel@fws.gov
Phone Number: 520-364-2104
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
San Bernadino NWR affords protection for over 315 bird species, 66 mammal species, and 55 reptile and amphibian species. (USFWS photo by William R. Radke)
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Continued . . .

During the 1700s, Jesuit priests were in the area for missionary purposes. The 1822 San Bernardino Land Grant (which included the present-day refuge), resulted in large-scale cattle grazing for 10 years, until the ranchers were driven out by the Apaches. Cattle ranching returned and farming began when John Slaughter purchased the land in 1887 and both practices continued until 1979. Between 1914 and 1919, cavalry encampments were present to protect settlers during raids by Pancho Villa. These all left their mark on the landscape of the San Bernardino area.

Dependable water in this otherwise arid environment has helped support an eventful human history. Populations of Native Americans occupied pit house village sites here between the 1200's through the 1400's. The Coronado expedition passed through the area in search of the fabled seven cities of Cibola during 1540. The Apache used this region for hunting, gathering, and raiding beginning in the early 1600's. Jesuit priests established a mission in the San Bernardino Valley during the 1700's, and a Spanish presidio was established at the site during 1774. Ranching began in 1822 with the acquisition of the San Bernardino Land Grant, and widespread cattle grazing progressed for many years until the Apache drove out the ranchers. Cattle ranching resumed on a large scale when John Slaughter, rancher and sheriff of Tombstone, established the 65,000-acre San Bernardino Ranch in 1884. Just two years later, the Apache leader Geronimo and his band of warriors surrendered for the last time at Skeleton Canyon just north of the dependable springs at San Bernardino. During 1889, local bartender, gambler, cattleman, and already three-time murderer Frank Leslie shot and killed his girlfriend on the 7-UP Ranch, escaping through what eventually became known as Leslie Canyon. The Mexican Revolution reached this border area in 1915 when Pancho Villa and his army fought in nearby Aqua Prieta. Rock fortifications remain on San Bernardino NWR and on Slaughter Ranch nearly 100 years after they sheltered U.S. Cavalry troops stationed here to protect settlers. Cattle ranching and farming continued on these lands unti1 1979 when The Nature Conservancy began to acquire the properties, which ultimately were established as part of the National Wildlife Refuges System.

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