History of the Refuge

  • 8,000 BC

    Black and White Volcano

    The earliest people of the area were the Paleo-Aleuts who migrated from interior Alaska.  

  • 1943 War for the Aleutians


    If you were here in 1943, you might have flown in on a World War II bomber! Cold Bay’s Fort Randall Army Air Corps Base was one of two secret airbases in the Aleutian Islands formed after the Japanese bombed Dutch Harbor in June 1942. Born from the tundra, the airstrip in Cold Bay was a key launching site for allied operations in the Aleutians. In the following years, the airstrip served military operations during World War II, Cold War, and Vietnam War. You can still find signs of military history in Cold Bay today.

    The Cold Bay airfield stretches for an impressive 10,415 feet, one of the longest in the state, and serves as a regional transportation center. The state-owned airfield is also a safe haven for domestic and international flights that are flying the Great Northern Circle Route to Asia.

  • 1960 Range Established

    River Valley

    On  December 6, 1960, the 498,000-acre Izembek National Wildlife Range was established, as "a refuge, breeding ground, and management area for all forms of wildlife

  • 1972 Lagoon Protected

    Through the Alaska Submerged Lands Act, Izembek State Game Refuge was established which included Izembek Lagoon.

  • 1980 Refuge Created

    Refuge Entrance Sign

     The Izembek National Wildlife Range was re-designated a National Wildlife Refuge through the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) which designated 300,000 acres within the refuge as wilderness.

  • 1986 Wetlands Recognized


     Izembek national and state refuges were the first to be recognized as a Wetland of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention.