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Cold Springs History

Cold Springs History

Earth-Filled Dam

Really like history? Fascinated with engineering trivia? Insomnia? This is the page for you. Learn about the making of the Cold Springs NWR and Dam.

History of Cold Springs Refuge & Dam

About the Complex

Mid-Columbia River National Wildlife Refuge Complex

The Mid-Columbia River Refuges are eight refuges within the Columbia Basin.

Cold Springs is managed as part of the Mid-Columbia River National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

Learn more about the complex 

About the NWRS

National Wildlife Refuge System


The National Wildlife Refuge System, within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, manages a national network of lands and waters set aside to conserve America’s fish, wildlife, and plants.

Learn more about the NWRS  

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Of Interest

  • National Wildlife Refuge 2015 Photo Contest

    NWRA Refuge Photo ContestNovember 15, 2015

    The National Wildlife Refuge Association has announced its 2015 Refuge Photo Contest! We invite you to enter your photographs of the habitats, wildlife and people that make our national wildlife refuges such incredible places. Our nation is home to more than 560 national wildlife refuges, which provide habitat for 700 bird species, 220 mammal species, 250 reptile and amphibian species, and over 1,000 species of fish. Landscapes range from the artic tundra in Alaska to tropical coastlines along the U.S. Virgin Islands. Wouldn’t it be great to have a winning entry from Cold Springs, Columbia, Conboy Lake, McKay Creek, McNary, Toppenish, Umatilla, or the Hanford Reach National Monument? Follow the link below for details.

    NWRA 2015 Photo Contest
  • It's All About The Water


    It’s all about water management at Cold Springs NWR. There are several seasonally flooded wetlands associated with the reservoir and Memorial Marsh, a small, 125-acre managed wetland. Cold Springs Reservoir itself is fed by the natural drainages of Cold Springs Creek and Despain Gulch, but the vast majority of the reservoir water is from a canal linking the reservoir to the Umatilla River. Water management of the reservoir is completely controlled by the Bureau of Reclamation, and reservoirs are managed for irrigation rather than wildlife. As such, the FWS spends considerable effort in moving water around to offset how the BOR manages water. One example is Memorial Marsh, which is associated with Despain Gulch as it feeds into the reservoir. The wetland is managed as a moist soil management area, growing about five acres of millet per year. Because of the careful management of water, Memorial Marsh is heavily used by migrating and nesting ducks. As a result, this area is popular for a variety of recreational pursuits.

Page Photo Credits — American Avocet - Images In The Wild, Barn Owlets - Kevin Keatley, Striped Skunk - Becky Gregory
Last Updated: Sep 16, 2015


  • 2015 Events Calendar

    Snowy Owl - EventsJanuary 01, 2015

    We've summarized our of events for you in PDF format. Things do change, so please look at the event details in the calendar.

    2015 Events Calendar (PDF)
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