Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge – Ruby Valley NV


The Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge was created in 1938 by the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt for the protection of migratory birds and endemic species of the Basin and Range region.  It serves over 220 species of waterfowl and is the largest nesting area in the west for Canvasback ducks.

The refuge covers about 38,000 acres, almost half of which consists of marshes created by springs drawing from aquifers coming out of the Ruby Mountains to the west.  The refuge lies at an elevation of 6,000 feet and mostly within Elko County NV, with the southern end in White Pine County.

At the time of its creation, the Bureau of Biological Survey in the Department of the Interior was in charge of National Wildlife Refuges (it was later merged into the Fish and Wildlife Service).  The Bureau utilized the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to develop its refuges.

The CCC men carried out an ambitious work plan that included building the first dikes and other water-control structures.  Because the system of dikes and water control has been enlarged and adapted over time, it’s not possible to say what remains of the CCC work – but one is still named the “CCC dike” on refuge maps.

CCC ‘boys’ also built the headquarters building, roads and truck trails, a laborer-patrolman’s dwelling (Quarters no. 17) and a rock-rubble water-control structure at the head of Cave Creek (which enters the lake just south of the refuge headquarters).  They may have laid out the South Ruby Campground, as well.

Two of the original buildings still stand at the headquarters area on the west side of the lake. They have been modified somewhat in recent years and possibly moved from elsewhere on the site, according to one ranger.

We have not determined yet where the CCC camp at Ruby Lake was located, but likely at the present headquarters area.

In 1972, the South Marsh of the refuge was designated as a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service.


Source notes

Renee Corona Kolvet and Victoria Ford, The Civilian Conservation Corps in Nevada: From Boys to Men. University of Nevada Press, 2006. Pgs. 83, 88-89, 90.

Personal communication with unidentified ranger, August 27, 2020.

Al Pasquale, Jo Ann Eckley and Barbara White, The Civilian Conservation Corps in Northern Nevada.  Elko NV: Bureau of Land Management, 1992. (short pamphlet)

Project originally submitted by Renee Kolvet on June 10, 2012.
Additional contributions by Richard A Walker.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Ruby Valley, NV 89833

Coordinates: 40.2028, -115.4772

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