Wildlife & Habitat

Ringneck Pair

The refuge provides a variety of habitats connected to the Columbia River creating a natural and highly productive wetland system. Water levels of the refuge are sometimes naturally maintained by beaver dams enclosing deep pools of water collected from local watersheds and flood backwaters of the Columbia River. The diversity of these wetlands and riparian communities supported by the river's natural processes sustain numerous wildlife and fisheries resources.

  • Wildlife Viewing Tips

    Binos - Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

    Franz Lake NWR is a closed refuge but is unique as visitors still have great opportunities for watching wildlife from the viewing platform off of Hwy 14. Every season brings new discoveries and the patient observer will be well rewarded with wildlife observation and photographic opportunities.

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  • Birds


    The refuge is known for seasonally high concentrations of wintering tundra swans.  The panoramic view across the gorge allows for the spotting of eagles, osprey, vultures, hawks, and other soaring birds. The large mature riparian habitats support nesting songbirds from shrub nesting flycatchers to high canopy vireos.

  • Mammals

    Black Bear

    Besides the abundance of birds, other wildlife such as bobcat and black bear find a protected home at Franz Lake NWR.  Water levels of portions of the refuge are maintained by beaver dams, which then benefit waterfowl and other wildlife.  Having this undisturbed protection on the refuge helps these animals continue to be healthy as well as minimizes wildlife and human conflicts.

  • Fish

    Coho Chinook Salmon

    The Refuge provides spawning and rearing habitat for federal and state listed species of fish including coho and chinook salmon, and steelhead trout.  These fish require clean cold water for survival, spawning and rearing of young.  Shaded tributaries and shoreline springs provide cool water areas on Franz Lake NWR, which are key to keeping the Lower Columbia River fish populations healthy and abundant.

  • Habitat


    Approximately 80% of bird species listed as sensitive in Oregon or Washington occur in riparian and wetland habitats, so refuges like Franz Lake are key to their survival.  However, there is more to Franz Lake NWR than open water. Wetlands, riparian forest, old-growth cedar, fir stands, and open meadows also provide vital habitat for wildlife.