Refuge History

It Happened Here.....

So many facets of Alaska’s history happened on the lands and waters of the Alaska Maritime Refuge that the Refuge seems like a time-capsule story of the state and the conservation of island wildlife.


Pre 1800s – The first people come to the islands, the Russian voyages of discovery, the beginnings of the fur trade, first rats and fox introduced to islands, Steller sea cow goes extinct.

1800s – Whaling, America buys Alaska, growth of the fox fur industry, beginnings of the refuge.

1900 to 1945 – Wildlife Refuge System is born and more land put in the refuge, wildlife protection increases through treaties and legislation, World War II rolls over the refuge, rats and foxes spread to more islands. The Valor in the Pacific National Monument designation recognizes some of these significant events and places. Visit our Attu75 Storymap to learn more about the war and specifically the Battle of Attu.

1945 to the present – Cold War bases built on refuge, nuclear bombs on Amchitka, refuge expands and protections increase, Aleutian goose brought back from near extinction, marine mammals in trouble.