Snag Boat Bend Unit

Snag Boat Bend Unit

As a unit of the William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge, Snag Boat Bend has the same conservation goals as the larger refuge but also provides its own unique opportunities as it is situated east of the main refuge, just south of the community of Peoria, on the Willamette River.  

The Peoria area was noted in the USFWS original 1960s assessments of the Willamette Valley as an “ideal” location for providing wintering waterfowl habitat. The gravel bars of the Willamette River had long been a favorite Canada goose hunting spot, which increased the potential benefits of protecting the area. It was not until 2006, however, that the land was purchased to create this unit of the refuge.

What sets Snag Boat Bend apart from the larger Finley Unit is its proximity to the Willamette River, and the resulting backwater slough habitat of Lake Creek. Lake Creek’s slow-moving waters make an ideal home for western pond turtles, often seen sunning themselves on logs—the tall black cottonwood trees that line the banks provide the proximity to water as well as the height and security that great blue herons prefer for their nesting rookeries.

While Snag Boat Bend’s heron rookery, on the westernmost edge of the refuge along the Willamette River, is not accessible from the trail, during the summer nesting season from the Turtle Loop levee road you can often spot one of these majestic birds perched high-up on a snag to serve as sentry for the rookery. The birds are very protective of their young, and you are likely to hear the harsh squawks of indignant parents as they swoop overhead to deter other wildlife from entering the area.

Boating and fishing are permitted below the high water line on Lake Creek. There is no on-refuge boat launch, but launch access can be found at Peoria County Park, 1 mile north (downstream) of Snag Boat Bend or at the McCartney Boat Ramp, 10 miles south (upstream) of Snag Boat Bend.