Did You Know?
"Wapato" comes from the area’s Native American name for broadleaf arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia), commonly known as the wild or duck potato due to the tubers that grow beneath ground at the end of the stalk. Elsewhere in the state, other tribes had different names for the plant, such as tchua by the Klamath Tribe. Whatever the name, the plant was a staple of Native Americans. And for you Hunger Games fans, the plant is also known as "katniss."
About the Complex
The Tualatin River Refuges include Tualatin River and Wapato Lake.
Wapato Lake is managed as part of the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
Learn more about the complex
About the NWRS
The National Wildlife Refuge System, within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, manages a national network of lands and waters set aside to conserve America’s fish, wildlife, and plants.
Learn more about the NWRS
Many thanks to our neighbors and community members who visited the Wapato Lake NWR Open House on November 18, 2014 at Gaston High School. There were a lot of good questions and lively discussion that will be helpful as we approach restoration planning. If you missed the open house and have questions or comments please let us know. Mail a letter to Erin Holmes, Project Leader, at 19255 SW Pacific Hwy, Sherwood, OR 97140 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org (please use Wapato Lake Open House in the subject line of your email).
Wapato Lake National Wildlife Refuge is currently not open to the public. This is a new refuge, and before we can open it to public use, there's a lot of work to be done—restoration, planning for public access and acquiring the remaining land. You can see quite a bit of wildlife from the roads—Highway 47, Springhill Road and Gaston Road, but please follow all traffic laws. We look forward to welcoming you on the refuge in the future.
As fall firmly grasps hold with the changing colors of the leaves and cooler temperatures, there is also a change in the lake bed and the wildlife. Fall migration has begun with the arrival of waterfowl from their summer breeding places far to the north. Currently the lake is dry, but it will begin to slowly fill up with the rains of fall and winter. By late December, the lake will be full and home to thousands of waterfowl—pintails, mallards, geese and others. One year we counted 60,000 pintails on one day!
Elegant, graceful, impressive — and loud. Hundreds of tundra swans visit Wapato Lake in the winter months. Historically they fed on the namesake wapato, a carbohydrate-rich native plant found in the marsh. Today they feed on plants, seeds, and aquatic insects.
Page Photo Credits Wood Duck - Aditi The Stargazer, Broadleaf Arrowhead - Peter Gorman, American Wigeon - Chuck and Grace Bartlett, Tundra Swan - Larry Meade
Last Updated: Jan 16, 2015