Portland-Vancouver Urban Refuge Program

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National Wildlife Refuges have an expressed purpose to manage and restore lands for the benefit of wildlife and their habitats AND provide opportunities for people to learn about and engage with nature. Refuges simultaneously offer a view to the past, present, and future of the human relationship to the natural world. The Urban Refuge Program is helping us share that view in neighborhoods, at refuges, and through coalitions of partners working together to benefit the wildlife and people of the Portland-Vancouver Metro Area.

  • 2016 Report: Strengthening Relationships

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    Building upon the many relationships that marked the first year of the Urban Refuge Program in 2015, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) continued to engage the Portland-Vancouver Metro Area in 2016 through its four local National Wildlife Refuges: Tualatin River, Ridgefield, Steigerwald Lake, and Wapato Lake.

    Pivotal to the success of these unique places within the landscape of public lands are our Friends groups — Friends of Tualatin River Refuge, Friends of Ridgefield Refuge, and the Columbia Gorge Refuge Stewards — who have joined us in this journey to engage an ever-changing community in relevant and meaningful ways.

    As we continue to calibrate the compass of the Urban Refuge Program and adjust to lessons learned, we invite you to take a journey through our engagement at these beautiful refuges, in vibrant neighborhoods, and with growing community coalitions.

    Download the 2016 Urban Refuge Program Annual Report (PDF 5mb)

  • Meet the Refuges

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    National Wildlife Refuges are sanctuaries for plants and animals, and offer people a change of pace from the frenzy and challenges of modern, daily life. You’ll find one any direction from the Portland-Vancouver core. Click the names below to go to that refuge's website or get a quick snapshot of each refuge.

    To the North: Ridgefield NWR

    To the South: Tualatin River NWR

    To the East: Steigerwald Lake NWR

    To the West: Wapato Lake NWR

  • A Community Asset

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    The launch of the Urban Refuge Program two years ago has brought an increased level of coordination among the refuges, their Friends groups, and the surrounding community. As a result, we are sharing a rich and consistent story of nature across the region and demonstrating the value of the USFWS and refuges to the community in a complete and coordinated way.

    We invite you to learn more about our efforts to:

    - Connect in neighborhoods

    - Welcome all to National Wildlife Refuges

    - Work with coalitions


    For a printable synopsis of the Urban Refuge Program:

    Download the 2016 Annual Report (PDF 5mb)

    Download the 2015 Annual Report (PDF 5mb)

  • Standards of Excellence

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    The Urban Standards of Excellence were developed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as guideposts to help us understand if we're engaging with the community in genuine and relevant ways, ensuring current and future generations care about and care for our shared natural resources.

    It might be helpful to think of the Standards of Excellence like a "flexible recipe." It describes the dish we're trying to make, shares the main ingredients, but there's flexibility in order, quantity, cook times, and what additional ingredients might make the dish even better. We invite you to learn more about this dish we call a "Connected Conservation Community" and would love to work with you in its creation.

    Take a quick look at the 8 Standards of Excellence

    Take an in-depth look at the USFWS Urban Hub

  • Engage with Us

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    Our Portland-Vancouver Area National Wildlife Refuges have accepted the challenge of ensuring a future for wildlife, natural places, and human connection to nature. We invite you to join us in taking on this challenge. To engage with us and follow our progress, please feel free to call Tualatin River Refuge at 503/625-5944 or write to one of our dedicated program staff:

    Urban Refuge Coordinator

    Kim Strassburg

    Communications Specialist

    Patrick Stark