Toppenish Refuge, established in 1964, is an important link in the chain of feeding and resting areas for waterfowl and other migratory birds using the Pacific Flyway. The Refuge is one of eight refuges in the Mid-Columbia River National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Although Toppenish Refuge was established primarily for migratory waterfowl, many other migratory and resident wildlife species benefit from refuge habitat management.
The Refuge consists of 1,978 acres spread over a distance of 27 miles in the agriculturally intensive Yakima Valley. The main part of the Refuge (Robbins and Pumphouse Unit) is at the center with the remaining smaller parcels spread around it. They are situated within the floodplain of Toppenish Creek, a year-round tributary of the Yakima River. Eight of the parcels lie upstream of the main Refuge area and four are located downstream.
The Toppenish 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 Creek, 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 or Columbia NWR, although some staff can be found at other refuges.