This site is just one stopping point along the 261 mile long Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge established by Congress in 1924. The north end of the refuge begins at the confluence of the Mississippi and Chippewa rivers near Wabasha, Minnesota and ends near Rock Island, Illinois.
The Winneshiek Bottoms have a historical significance for the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge. Will Dilg, an avid fisherman, heard of a drainage plan for the Winneshiek Bottoms and was enraged that his river would be forever changed. He rallied other sportsmen and created the Izaak Walton League. Once the league was formed, Dilg sought to gain national support by penning an article in the League's magazine titled: “The Drainage Crime of the Century is about to be Committed and You Can Stop It. Will you Do It?" In the article he described the value of the Winneshiek Bottoms as “America’s most prolific spawning grounds for black bass.” He also wrote about the thousands of song birds and feeding area for ducks. He claimed, “Nowhere on this earth is there so beautiful a river.” His passion for the river was emphasized when he wrote, “And when these river bottoms are once drained, they are gone forever.” In 1923 Dilg met with President Calvin Coolidge and Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover to craft a bill to create a wildlife refuge. In 1924 the bill passed through Congress and authorized the establishment of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge.(1)
Enjoy your time on the river catching the bass, bluegill and northerns that Dilg fought to save for you.
(1) The Izaak Walton League of America, Outdoor America, Winter 2012.