Oak Woodland Restoration

Image of oak tree leaves with words that say Oak Restoration

Beginning March 18, 2019, the Carty Unit at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge will undergo a process known as an “oak release.” This involves removing faster growing conifer trees, mainly Douglas fir, in order to create more ideal growing conditions for Oregon white oak trees. The project will involve temporary closure of the Oaks-to-Wetlands Trail north of the Oak Overlook on March 18, 2019 for up to three months. See more closure details below.

For complete information about this and other Refuge improvement projects, visit www.refuge2020.info.


Temporary closure of the Oaks-to-Wetlands Trail, north of the Oak Overlook (the end of the paved portion of the trail at the interpretive log). The project will involve an active tree cutting phase and a monitoring phase where Refuge staff will watch for the risk of falling debris before re-opening the trail.


The project will begin March 18, 2019 and potentially last into June, 2019. Active tree cutting will last approximately six weeks, while monitoring for falling debris will last up to two months.


Oregon white oak was once a thriving species throughout SW Washington and Oregon's Willamette Valley. Since Europeans came to this area more than 150 years ago and ended the indigenous practice of conducting prescribed fire, faster growing trees, like Douglas fir, have crowded and shaded Oregon white oaks and impeded their growth.

This restoration project, known as an "oak release," will improve oak woodland habitat by removing coniferous trees and other unwanted vegetation. This will benefit many wildlife species that thrive on the food, safety, and nesting resources provided by the expansive network of branches on healthy oak trees.


Tree removal will happen thanks to a partnership with the Cowlitz Indian Tribe. They will be removing Douglas fir trees and transporting them to an ongoing restoration project at Abernathy Creek and its tributaries near Longview, WA.

More Information

For a deeper dive into this project and its connection to other habitat and public access improvements, the USFWS, Friends of Ridgefield NWR, and Columbia Gorge Refuge Stewards have teamed up to create a comprehensive information resource to keep you informed about all the changes happening in the coming years. Please visit: