About the Refuge


Hidden between the foothills of the Cascades and the Rocky Mountains, this unique, forested, mountainous Refuge provides habitat for large mammals like bear, cougar, deer, elk and moose as well as over 200 migratory songbirds.

The Little Pend Oreille pronounced "ponderay" National Wildlife Refuge is located in northeastern Washington about 70 miles north of Spokane, 80 miles west from the panhandle of Idaho and 60 miles south of British Columbia, Canada. Our 40,198 acres are within the Columbia River Basin Ecosystem and the Okanogan Highlands Province. The Refuge is on the western edge of the Sekirk Mountains; elevations range from 1,800 feet to 5,600 feet. Other public lands surround us- to the north the Washington Department of Natural Resources; to the east and south the U.S. Forest Service are the land stewards.

The Refuge was established on May 2, 1939 to protect and provide a breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife. Most of the land was acquired through the Resettlement Administration which retired marginal farmland. Other land was purchased from willing sellers or acquired through exchange with the Washington Department of Natural Resources.

We will use our Comprehensive Conservation Plan to build on native wildlife habitat diversity as a theme with emphasis on developing late successional forest and restoring riparian habitat. Refuge staff will focus management efforts in over-stocked stands of dry forest using thinning and prescribed fire techniques that mimic natural ecological processes like wildfire. Degraded streams will be restored to enhance and maintain the natural diversity of the Refuge.

A healthy Refuge environment will provide opportunities for visitors to enjoy wildlife viewing, hunting and fishing in a natural setting. Interpreting wildlife and the Refuge's unique heritage will enhance visitor's experience while protecting the cultural integrity of the area. We will continue to seek partnerships with other agencies, landowners and local communities to accomplish our objectives.

Refuge Goals

Goal 1: Conserve, enhance, and restore native forest, riparian, in-stream, and wetland habitats and their associated fish, wildlife, and plants, representative of the native biological diversity of northeastern Washington.

Goal 2: Monitor, protect, and recover special status plants and animals and species of management interest.

Goal 3: Provide opportunities for wildlife-dependent recreation and education to enhance public appreciation, understanding, and enjoyment of Refuge wildlife, fish, habitats, and cultural history.