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

7376 S. Wolfson Rd
Los Banos, CA   93635
E-mail: sean_brophy@fws.gov
Phone Number: 209-826-3508
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
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Continued . . .

Early accounts by the first Spanish explorers abound in descriptions of the vast marsh areas of the Valley and its great flocks of ducks and geese in numbers darkening the sky. These marshes were formed by the overflow of water along rivers caused by fall and winter storms. Flooding continued into the summer, caused by runoff from melting snows in the high Sierra Nevada.

Much of the Valley was taken up by Spanish land grants and consisted of open range where cattle were raised. The discovery of gold in California attracted great hordes of people, and the meat from cattle became important as a source of food. During the 1850s and 1860s, cattle ranching was the major industry. During this period, great herds of tule elk, antelope, and deer were slaughtered to feed hungry miners; ducks and geese were killed by the wagonloads. In 1870, the Valley entered its present era of intensive agriculture.

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