About the Complex

Great Blue Heron - Michael Hersen

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

    RNWR Scene - Joan Amero

    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

    Ridgefield Slough - Joan Amero

    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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  • Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge

    Landscape SLNRW

    Located near the town of Washougal, Washington, Steigerwald Lake NWR consists of historic Columbia River floodplain habitat, wetlands, pastures and cottonwood and oak stands. Walk the 2 mile Gibbons Creek Art Trail from the entrance to the Columbia River to see these habitats and the amazing wildlife that call them home.

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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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