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Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Pacific Region

Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge in the winter - Photo by Roy Lowe USFWS


Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge consists of some of the most scenic estuarine habitat along the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway. On either side of Highway 101, starched skeleton trees jut forth from the estuary and are reminiscent of a time when the salt marsh was diked to provide pasture for dairy cows. Red-tailed hawks, bald eagles, and other raptors can often be seen roosting at the top of these snags and a variety of estuarine dependant birds including great blue heron, great egret and many species of waterfowl can be seen foraging in the tidally influenced waters.


Wildlife and Habitats

Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge was established to protect salt marsh, brackish marsh, tidal sloughs, mudflats, and coniferous and deciduous forestland. The refuge provides nursery grounds for coho and chinook salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout. The primary ecological goal for the refuge is to allow the salt marsh to return to its natural tidally influenced state.

An 100-acre tidal marsh restoration project was completed on Millport Slough through a partnership between the USFWS, Ducks Unlimited and the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians. The restoration involved breaching 220 feet of dike, removing two dikes totaling 9,300 feet and filling 1,200 feet of artificial ditches. Large woody debris was placed in the marsh to improve habitat for anadromous fish..

Large numbers of migratory birds use the marshes and tidal slough areas. Annual mid-winter waterfowl surveys are conducted in this area and in 2009 over 1,200 waterfowl were counted in the Siletz Bay area (USFWS unpublished data). Waterfowl species such as mallard, northern pintail, American wigeon, green-winged teal, bufflehead, red-breasted merganser, hooded merganser, and Canada and cackling geese feed and rest on the marshes. Great blue herons and other wading birds use the bay and there is a small breeding colony of great blue herons on the refuge. Thousands of gulls and shorebirds including whimbrel, western and least sandpipers, dunlin, greater yellowlegs, semipalmated plover, long-billed dowitchers, and black-bellied plovers use Siletz Bay as stopover habitat. Virginia rails and sora make use of the freshwater / brackish wetlands and tidal marsh / meadow-nesting species such as savannah sparrow, marsh wren and common yellowthroat are abundant. A diversity of raptors, such as osprey, northern harrier, bald eagle, and red-tailed hawk are commonly observed hunting prey within the marshes and mudflats. The recently delisted California brown pelican uses the lower bay for foraging and the spit as a roost site. Aquatic mammals such as marsh shrews, Oregon voles, muskrat, river otter, beaver, and raccoon are common. Harbor seals forage and rest over tide flats with their primary haulout located on the spit. Black-tailed deer and Roosevelt elk forage in the meadows and tidal marshes.

The forested areas of the refuge provide important wildlife habitat. Young riparian alder and understory vegetation in coniferous forests provides browse for deer and elk. Wetland forest and woody riparian habitat support mammals such as beaver, mink, river otter, muskrat, and raccoon as well as numerous small mammals such as deer mice and a variety of species of voles, moles, and shrews. Many amphibians and reptiles such as long-toed and western red- backed salamanders, rough-skinned newts, Pacific tree and red-legged frogs, northern alligator lizards, and garter snakes are also dependent upon these habitats. The forests are used by neo-tropical songbirds including Wilson’s and Townsend’s, orange-crowned, black-throated gray and yellow-rumped warblers; hermit, Swainson’s and varied thrushes. Chestnut-backed chickadees, winter wren, Stellers’ jay, wrentit, and song sparrows are found year round in the forest.

Mallard in the water - Photo by Roy Lowe USFWS
 

Visitor OpportunitiesVisitors paddle along the Siletz Bay Refuge in kayaks

Paddle the Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge with an interpretive ranger in the summer of 2015. Write to oregoncoast@fws.gov to get on a waiting list for more information.

Waterfowl Hunting

The Service will open a portion of Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge to the hunting of ducks, geese, and coots during the waterfowl hunt season of 2014-15. Waterfowl hunting will be allowed seven days per week on some refuge-owned lands west of Highway 101. These lands consist of 80 acres of salt marsh where the Siletz River empties into the bay. A 100 yard safety zone is in effect to prohibit hunting on refuge property that extends westward from the refuge property line on the west side of the housing development of Siletz Keys.

In addition the hunting of waterfowl three days per week on 112 acres of refuge lands that are east of Highway 101 and south of Millport Slough is allowed. Specifically, hunters can shoot ducks, geese, and coots on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday. Hunters accessing lands east of U.S. Highway 101 and south of Millport Slough will access the site by using a small parking area and trail located on South Millport Slough Road or by boat. In the future, the existing parking area and trail will be improved by the Service to support waterfowl hunting. To minimize potential conflict between refuge users and reduce associated safety issues, lands south of Millport Slough that are open to waterfowl hunting will remain closed to wildlife observation, photography, and interpretation. Hunters accessing lands west of U.S. Highway 101 via foot will be directed to use caution since no parking or official access point will be provided by the Refuge.

 


Refuge Planning

The Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex has completed a planning process for the long term management of wildlife, habitat, and public use activities on Bandon Marsh, Nestucca Bay, and Siletz Bay NWRs. Through this planning process, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sought input from the public, interested agencies, Tribes, and organizations regarding their interests, concerns, and viewpoints about important Refuge management issues. The Final Comprehensive Conservation Plan for Siletz Bay NWR is now available. For more information visit our CCP site.


Directions

Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge is located just south of Lincoln City along US Highway 101.


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Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex, 2127 SE Marine Science Drive, Newport, OR, 97365
Phone: 541-867-4550. Email: Oregoncoast@fws.gov.
 
Site last updated August 25, 2014