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

great blue heron perched in tree, with red foliage behind
W28488 Refuge Rd.
Trempealeau, WI   54661
E-mail: trempealeau@fws.gov
Phone Number: 608-539-2311
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Dikes on Trempealeau Refuge create pools which provide habitat for waterfowl and wading birds, such as great blue herons.
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In the early 1900s, a drainage district formed whose intent was to drain the area north of the railroad dike in order to farm it. The district diverted the Trempealeau River into Pine Creek and then dug another channel diverting the two into the Mississippi River about three miles downstream of the Trempealeau River's original delta. The drainage district eventually went bankrupt, and much of the wetland area became the Delta Fish and Fur Farm.

The Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge was established by Executive Order in 1936 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as "a Refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife." The original Refuge consisted of a 706.9-acre upland portion with open areas of former hay, pasture, and croplands. An office and maintenance shop complex was constructed in 1936, along with temporary facilities for a Civilian Conservation Corps camp, which was located on refuge lands until the advent of World War II.

For more than 40 years, the Refuge remained small, despite several attempts to purchase more than 5,000 acres of the surrounding Delta Fish and Fur Farm, Inc. The Farm yielded a variety of incomes to its owners, including farming, timber harvest, commercial fishing, furbearer trapping, and turtle and bait fish harvest. In addition, a group of local sportsmen leased the marshes for waterfowl hunting. Under private ownership, the area remained relatively unchanged. Of significance was the major flood of record in 1965, which breached barrier dikes, inundated Refuge buildings, and caused irreparable damage to wetland plant communities.

In 1975, Dairyland Power Cooperative acquired the entire Delta Fish and Fur Farm. Dairyland wanted to construct a rail loop for a coal off-loading facility near their power generating plant at Alma, Wisconsin. The land they would need for constructing the loop was part of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. As part of a land exchange, Dairyland divested about 120 acres of the "Delta" and sold an additional 4,778 acres to the Service in 1979. This addition, plus other recent acquisitions, has brought Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge to its present 6,226 acres.

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