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A Talk on the Wild Side.

Urban Refuges in Action

By Kim Strassburg, USFWS

What, exactly, happens at an urban refuge?

The idea might come across initially as an oxymoron to some, but that is far from the truth.

Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge is located in Portland, Oregon, and serves as an excellent example of a place where even a city-sized community can engage with nature in a meaningful way.

While a group of 8 to 10-year-olds work on nature photography, Portland Community College conservation biology students explore the refuge trails and interact with staff to learn about wildlife management and conservation careers.

StudenstonrefugeStudents expolore the Refuge. (Photo: USFWS)

While pre-school groups make crafts in the Discovery Classroom and walk the trails, teens from a North Portland Youth Employment Institute program explore the Refuge with a volunteer naturalist.


Let's Go Outside! Featured Refuge Events for the Week of December 12th

Is holiday shopping, cooking, and preparing making you say "Bah-Humbug" more than "Happy Holidays!"?  Take a break from all the running around and head outside to get a breath of fresh air. Even though the temperature is dropping there are still things to do and see.

Here are some of the events happening at refuges across the country this week, some in the spirit of the season.  Check out this link for more events happening in December on our refuges.

As always, make sure you head over to the Refuge System's homepage and use their searchable map to find events at a Wildlife Refuge near you.

Let's go outside!

SnowshoeingGuests snowshoe at Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge in the Mountain-Praire Region, Photo: Jennifer Jewett


Looking Back: Victor Scheffer

Every so often it's good to look into the past to revisit the people who got us where we are today. Looking Back is a series on the people who helped shape the National Wildlife Refuge System. The series is based on "A Look Back," a regular column written by Karen Leggett, from the Refuge System Branch of Communications, which appears in each issue of the Refuge Update newsletter.

“Long-lost Deer Found on West Coast by Service Naturalist”

This headline on a 1941 press release from the U.S. Department of the Interior identified Victor B. Scheffer as the naturalist who discovered a band of about 600 Columbia white-tailed deer along the Washington-Oregon border.  Lewis and Clark had described these deer, whose tails and antlers differ from other whitetails and whose habitat was largely destroyed by farmers and hunters. 


Oregon: Preparing for Change on the North Pacific Coast

A long-billed curlew walking in water
A long-billed curlew. The Service is working with the National Wildlife Federation and state and federal partners to assess climate change impacts in marine and coastal environments in Oregon and the North Pacific region. The information will help resource managers take action to safeguard species and habitats in the region. Photo: USFWS.

Coastal and marine environments in Oregon and throughout the North Pacific region are rich in natural wealth, scenic beauty and quality of life. They are also among the first places being affected by climate change and other environmental stressors.

The Oregon Climate Change Research Institute in its 2010 Oregon Climate Assessment Report reported that observed and projected effects include loss of coastal wetlands; changes in the abundance and distribution of wildlife, including salmon; increased coastal erosion and flooding from increasing sea levels and wave heights; and impacts to ocean ecosystems from increased temperatures and acidity of seawater. The report emphasized that these changes are already happening and that Oregon needs to prepare and plan for how to adapt both human and natural communities to these changes.

Estuaries all along the West Coast have been greatly affected during the past 100 years by diking, draining and conversion to agriculture or development, says Roy Lowe, refuge manager for the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex. This activity eliminated vast tidal marshes and swamps. For instance, the Coquille River estuary, where Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge is located, has suffered a 95 percent loss of the tidal marsh and 93 percent loss of forested wetlands. Lowe says these habitats directly support juvenile salmon and steelhead, waterfowl, wading birds and many other species. In addition, the wetlands also dampen flood and storm effects, trap sediment, sequester carbon and provide essential detritus and nutrients to the lower estuaries and ocean.