Lake Ilo National Wildlife Refuge was created in 1939 by Executive Order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt (which wikipedia incorrectly calls an act of Congress in 1938). The land was purchased and administered by the Bureau of Biological Survey (which morphed into the Fish and Wildlife Service in 1940).
The region was one of the last parts of the country to be settled by farmers and before long the area suffered from drought and dust storms like much of the rest of the Great Plains in the 1930s. In 1936, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) help the locals realize their plan to build dam at the confluence of two creeks to create a more sustainable water supply. The dam was completed in 1938, along with picnic areas and a restroom for recreational users. At that point, the federal government stepped in again to buy out the farmers and create the wildlife refuge.
In the late 1980s it was realized that the dam needed extensive repairs, so the water level was lowered for construction. During the process, evidence of ancient Native American camps were found, triggering an extensive archealogical assessment of the area that uncovered 13 paleo-indian sites from the Folsom Era – some of the earliest settlements by new arrivals from Asia.
Project originally submitted by Evan Kalish on January 23, 2015.
Additional contributions by Richard Walker.
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