Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Service Seeks Input on Draft Public Access Plan for Wapato Lake National Wildlife Refuge

December 14, 2021

Contact(s):

Jennifer Koches, Public Affairs Specialist, 843-670-7902


Large sign at entrance to Wapato Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Entrance to Wapato Lake National Wildlife Refuge Credit: USFWS

Gaston, OR - The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is exploring public use alternatives at Wapato Lake National Wildlife Refuge. A Draft Public Access Plan and Environmental Assessment have been developed and are available on the refuge’s website for review and comment.

 

The Service is accepting comments on the draft plan until January 15, 2022 and is scheduling multiple opportunities to engage with the public in review and comment on the draft plan. The next opportunity will be Wednesday, December 15, 2021 from 3-5 p.m. Refuge staff will be set up in the parking lot of Scoggins Creek Coffee at 93 East Main Street in Gaston to meet and greet the public and address comments and questions on the draft plan. The Service welcomes the public’s input in helping to craft public access plans for Wapato Lake National Wildlife Refuge into the future. Please check the refuge’s website for future opportunities to comment.

 

Wapato Lake National Wildlife Refuge, established in 2013, is located adjacent to the small town of Gaston, Oregon and is part of the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Although the refuge lies within a rural area, it is approximately 20 miles west of Portland, Oregon’s largest city and is considered an urban refuge. In 2015, the Service embarked on an Urban Refuge Program initiative to enhance the relevance of the National Wildlife Refuge System and the Service to a rapidly changing America.

 

In 2020 during the first phase of opening the refuge to the public, the refuge was opened to waterfowl hunting. The draft Public Access Plan is the second phase of opening the Refuge to the public and explores additional public uses such as wildlife observation, wildlife photography, interpretation, and environmental education. While the refuge’s visitor services program is still in early development the third phase of opening the refuge to the public will include a comprehensive Visitor Services Plan for this Urban Refuge.

 

The lakebed of the refuge has been intensively managed for agriculture for nearly a century and the Service is actively working to re-establish plant communities. The Wapato Lake National Wildlife Refuge Environmental Assessment (USFWS 2019) provides habitat restoration information that helps inform how the refuge will plan and implement visitor services.

 

For more information on the upcoming meetings or other questions about the Draft Public Access Plan and Environmental Assessment, please contact Eva Kristofik at 503-625-5944 or at tualatinriver@fws.gov.

 

The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System is to administer a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management and, where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife, and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.


The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

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