Cold Springs National Wildlife Refuge was one of the first refuges established in the West, created by President Theodore Roosevelt on February 25, 1909. Cold Springs NWR was established primarily to benefit waterfowl and other native birds. However, the 3,102-acre refuge, while small, provides a surprising variety of habitats and abundance of many other wildlife species. The open water on the reservoir attracts large numbers of Canada geese and ducks. Dense riparian areas provide cover for migrating and nesting songbirds. Shrub-steppe areas support coyotes, badgers, ring-necked pheasants, several hawk species and trophy elk and deer, along with dozens of other mammal, reptile and amphibian species.
Overlying a Bureau of Reclamation water storage reservoir, Cold Springs NWR is a blend of open water, managed wetland, riparian, grassland and shrub-steppe habitats. The reservoir itself is notable in that it has three water sources—directly from Cold Springs Creek, from a gravity-fed canal system draining from the Umatilla River and from water pumped through a canal system from the Columbia River, although the latter is used infrequently and only in low-water years in the Umatilla River. What this means to wildlife and recreational users is that the water supply is very consistent and assured.
Located in north-central Oregon approximately two miles southeast of Hermiston, Oregon, Cold Springs NWR is one of the unknown gems of the National Wildlife Refuge System. Although no surveys have been done to determine the exact number of refuge users, or the activities engaged in, anecdotally the FWS knows that use is low and is focused around hunting and fishing, with birdwatching, horseback riding and day-use (e.g., picnicking, social gathering) accounting for additional visitor use days. Most use appears to be from nearby residents, and the refuge is not known to be a ‘destination’ area for visitors from outside the immediate area.
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