In the early 1900s, may people across the nation recognized that populations of migratory birds and other wildlife were dwindling. Thus, a strong national conservation movement developed and called for the establishment of wildlife preserves across the country in an effort to boost wildlife populations. Cold Springs, the fifth wildlife haven setup on the West Coast, was established by President Theodore Roosevelt on February 25, 1909, as a “preserve and breeding ground for native birds.”
The Cold Springs National Wildlife Refuge continues to be managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the lead wildlife and conservation agency in the federal government. The refuge overlays Cold Springs Reservoir, the primary source of water for local agriculture. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages the lands, whereas the reservoir’s water levels are regulated by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Full pool occurs in May with 1,550 acres of open water. By late August, an average of only 200 acres of water remains. Although the water levels drop drastically in summer, Cold Springs Refuge attracts a variety of wildlife throughout the year.
The Cold Springs National Wildlife Refuge is part of the Mid-Columbia National Wildlife Refuge Complex, which is comprised of eight refuges (Columbia, Cold Springs, Conboy Lake, McKay, McNary, Saddle Mountain, Toppenish and Umatilla) and one national monument (Hanford Reach). With headquarters in Burbank, Washington, at the McNary NWR, the refuge complex stretches across the states of Oregon and Washington in 13 counties. Most staff are located at the headquarters at McNary NWR, although some staff can be found at other refuges.