Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1937 with funds from Emergency Conservation Fund Act of 1933 to provide refuge and breeding habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife, provide habitat and manage for endangered, threatened, or sensitive species, and alleviate crop depredation. Historically, the area of the refuge was known as the Colusa Plains which was a vacant, windswept plain with short grasses, shrubs and forbs. In January 1937, the federal government purchased 10,775-acre Spalding Ranch and christened it the Sacramento Migratory Waterfowl Refuge. From 1937-1942 the Civilian Conservation Corp's (CCC) "Camp Sacramento" housed up to 200 men at the current headquarters area. The men constructed levees, water control structures, and delivery ditches to create and sustain wetlands across the majority of the refuge. Mosquito bitten, sunburned, dust-choked men worked non-stop even on 100-degree days to create the refuge.
Today, the refuge is known as the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge and it functions as the headquarters for the entire Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The refuge supports over 250 species of birds. Most notable are the huge wintering concentrations (November - January) with regular peaks of over 500,000 ducks and 250,000 geese. Raptor numbers swell as the waterfowl numbers increase, including bald eagles and peregrine falcons. Waterfowl viewing is good between October and March. In addition, shorebird numbers peak in the spring and fall, while some waterfowl and numerous migratory songbird species nest here during the summer. Many birds and mammals provide year-round viewing.
The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System is to administer a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management and, where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.
Other Facilities in this Complex
Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge is managed as part of the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex, with headquarters at Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge Complex is comprised of 5 National Wildlife Refuges (Sacramento, Delevan, Colusa, Sutter and Sacramento River NWRs) and 3 Wildlife Management Areas (Willow Creek-Lurline, Butte Sink and Steve Thompson North Central Valley WMAs).