History

A 1930's picture of 2 men in a boat checking for botulism

Recognized as a prominent landmark, Long Lake played host to Plains Indians and early European settlers who camped and hunted waterfowl and other game along its shores.


During the 1930’s, The Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps were born out of circumstances brought on by economic depression and initially authorized in 1933 to bring hope, relief, and meaningful employment to millions of young men.

At Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge, the Civilian Conservation Corp, comprised largely of local residents, played an important role in the refuge's development. Participants worked primarily on water development, wildlife conservation, and erosion control. They constructed dikes to control water levels, and built small check dams in ravines creating ponds for wildlife. Trucks and teams of men and horses moved rock and gravel to form dikes and 19 duck islands in Units I and II. An office/shop building, residence, and other related structures were also built in the 1930's using native field stone. These structures are still in use today.

Prior to the creation of Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge and during the refuge’s early years, avian botulism was a major issue on Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge. For many years, botulism killed up to 250,000 birds (primarily ducks) annually. The disease is caused by a bacterial toxin that attacks a bird's central nervous system. Combined spring runoff and rainfall is not always high enough to establish and maintain desirable water levels.Two dikes that were built by the Works Progress Administration divide Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge into three water management units. The dikes and water control structures have increased water management capabilities on the refuge. Through manipulation of water levels, the incidence and severity of avian botulism outbreaks have been reduced.