East shore of Lake Lawtonka showing migrating geese and Mount Scott
Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge began in 1901 when part of the Comanche-Kiowa-Apache Indian Reservation was set aside as a National Forest. The area was transferred in 1935 to the Bureau of Biological Survey to become a wildlife refuge under the New Deal.
The 59,020 acre refuge hosts a rare piece of the past – a remnant mixed grass prairie, an island where the natural grasslands escaped destruction because the rocks underfoot defeated the plow. It provides habitat for large native grazing animals such as American bison and Rocky Mountain elk – both of which had been exterminated in this area by the end of the 19th century and had to be reintroduced. Texas longhorn cattle also share the refuge rangelands as a cultural and historical legacy species. More than 50 mammal, 240 bird, 64 reptile and amphibian, 36 fish, and 806 plant species thrive on this important refuge.
New Deal crews of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and Works Progress Administration (WPA) conducted extensive work at Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge. According to a marker at the visitors Center, CCC workers created “dams, roads, buildings, fences, trails, and many of the recreational facilities still in use today.”
The Oklahoma Historical Society adds, “There are numerous artificial lakes, with the first, Lost Lake, completed in 1926. Most were created during the 1930s under the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) or the Works Progress Administration (WPA).”
In addition, “In 1938 a road to Mount Scott’s peak officially opened. It was a joint project of the Public Works Administration, a private firm, and the WPA.” At the peak of Mount Scott is a WPA marker dated to 1940. The summit offers a panoramic view of the Wichita Mountain range.
“The CCC and Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge - Lawton, Oklahoma,” Waymarking.com, accessed August 15, 2014.
“Refuge Drives Stir the Senses,” U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, accessed August 15, 2014.
"WPA Marker - Mount Scott," Becky Robbins, Panoramio.com, accessed July 27, 2015.
Project originally submitted by Brent McKee - wpatoday.org on July 26, 2015.
Additional contributions by Richard Walker.
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