Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge – Willows CA


Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1937 by Executive Order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. With funds from Emergency Conservation Fund Act of 1933, the Bureau of Biological Survey purchased the 10,775-acre Spalding Ranch to create what was originally called the Sacramento Migratory Waterfowl Refuge.

Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) enrollees developed the refuge from 1937 to 1942, working out of Camp Sacramento at the present location of the refuge headquarters. Some of the original buildings may exist in the headquarters complex behind the visitors’ center, but this has not been confirmed.

Under the supervision of the Bureau of Biological Survey, the CCC men constructed levees, water control structures, and delivery ditches to create wetlands on what had been mostly grassland on the floodplain of the Sacramento River. They also built the loop road and trails.

Today, the refuge functions as the headquarters for the entire Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex, which includes five wild refugees and three wildlife management areas in the northern Sacramento River valley.

The refuge supports over 250 species of birds, notably huge wintering flocks of 500,000 to 750,000 ducks and 200,000 snow geese and other geese. Eagles, falcons and hawks are also plentiful, as are migratory song birds and some endemic species.

Source notes

Douglas Brinkley, Rightful Heritage: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Land of America. New York: Harper. 2011.

Project originally submitted by Joan Greer on August 9, 2019.
Additional contributions by Richard A Walker.

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


Location Info

752 Co Rd 99W
Willows, CA 95988

Coordinates: 39.42962, -122.18666

Leave a Reply

Before leaving a comment, please note:

  • Comments allow viewers to share information with others or alert us to errors or changes in a New Deal site.
  • We are not involved in the management of New Deal sites and have no information about visits, hours or rentals.
  • This page shows all the information we have for this site; if you have new information or photos to share, click below.


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

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.