About the Complex

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A once wild and dynamic Columbia River scoured the earth and spread rich soils along its edges and into its floodplain. Left behind was a mosaic of wetlands, riparian forests, sloughs, wet meadows, and meadows, which sustained a diversity of plants, animals, and fish. In turn, humans have thrived on the River's abundance for thousands of years. Today, these habitats and wildlife resources are protected along the lower Columbia River within the boundaries of the Pierce, Franz Lake, Steigerwald Lake, and Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuges.

  • Why a Complex

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    Refuges are grouped into a complex structure because they occur in a similar ecological region, such as a watershed or specific habitat type, and have a related purpose and management needs. Typically, a project leader or complex manager oversees the general management of all sites with the support of a staff that are centrally located and support all refuges within the complex.

  • Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

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    Ridgefield NWR has approximately 5,300 acres of marshes, grasslands and woodlands and is just 20 minutes north of Portland, OR. Visitors can enjoy different breath taking views of wildlife in their natural habitats each season. Facilities include an auto tour route, a bird viewing blind, trails, a Chinookan style Plankhouse, and a seasonal waterfowl hunting program.

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  • Franz Lake National Wildlife Refuge


    Franz Lake NWR lies near the town of Skamania, Washington, about 15 miles upstream from Steigerwald Lake NWR. This closed refuge is known for its seasonal abundance of Tundra Swans. Explore the website to find out how you can view these swans from an overlook next to the refuge.

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  • Pierce National Wildlife Refuge

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    Pierce NWR rests near the base of Beacon Rock, immediately west of the town of North Bonneville. It encompasses 329 acres of wetlands and uplands along the north shore of the Columbia River and is host to one of the last remaining chum salmon runs still existing in this watershed.

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