For the birds

Minnesota’s Carlos Avery Game Refuge played a role in reviving several game species

Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society  Entrance gate to the Carlos Avery Game Refuge, ca. 1936.

Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society

Entrance gate to the Carlos Avery Game Refuge, ca. 1936.

In the mid-twentieth century, Anoka County’s Carlos Avery Game Farm helped to build populations of dwindling game bird species, such as the bob white quail, chukar partridge, and ring-necked pheasant. A National Register-listed historic district since 1991, it is now part of the nearly 25,000-acre Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and has become a reserve for deer, waterfowl, and other woodland animals and birds.

Carlos Avery, executive agent for the Minnesota Game and Fish Commission, 1907. Photograph by Petri & Svenson.

Carlos Avery, executive agent for the Minnesota Game and Fish Commission, 1907. Photograph by Petri & Svenson.

The Minnesota Department of Conservation (MDC, later the Department of Natural Resources) bought 8478.73 acres of land from the Crex Carpet Company in 1933 for a wildlife refuge. The land, which the company had used to grow a type of wire grass used in rug manufacturing, covered portions of Anoka and Chisago counties and included swamp land, three lakes, and woods. It was named the Carlos Avery Game Refuge in honor of Minnesota’s first commissioner of conservation.

The superintendent of the MDC, Frank Blair, saw the land as the perfect location for a game-bird breeding program. He worked with Walter D. MacLieth, an architect with the Division of Game and Fish, to design a modern facility for raising bob white quail and chukar partridge within the refuge.

The Works Progress Administration (WPA) agreed to build it. Construction began in January 1936 for the first structures on the property, a barn and a storage building. A house for the gamekeeper was completed later that summer. More buildings followed in 1937, including a heating plant, power plant, garage, incubation building, and superintendent’s house. MacLieth designed each building in a Colonial style, with white-painted clapboard siding and green-stained wood shingles. Later additions included several brood shelters, a pump house, and an iron flagpole with a limestone base.

Governor Elmer Benson dedicated the Carlos Avery Game Farm on October 16, 1938. The WPA covered 85 percent of the $40,887 cost of construction. 

For full article, go to: MinnPost

Source, image(s), credits & more: MinnPost | Johannes Allert