The refuge is open everyday from dawn to dusk and is always free. The refuge is bordered by Ankeny Hill Road, Buena Vista Road, and Wintel Road to the north, west and south respectively, and visitors can access refuge trails and/or viewing areas from each.
Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge, in partnership with Salem Audubon and the Friends of the Willamette Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex, have created an environmental education hub for the Mid Valley: the Ankeny Hill Nature Center. The Ankeny Hill Nature Center offers everything from a Nature Explore Area to trails, education nodes and picnic areas. For more information, visit the Nature Center website: www.ankenyhillnaturecenter.org.
Observation blinds located on Rail Trail, Pintail and Egret Trails are a great way to get a closer view of the variety of waterfowl on the Refuge. If you want to photograph birds, stop by Pintail and Eagle Marsh. For a boardwalk hike, go to Rail Trail. Just want to drive up and watch wildlife for awhile and escape? You'll find your favorite place here.
Location and Contact Information
Located near the confluence of the Willamette and Santiam Rivers, Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1965. This historic wetland area provides overwintering habitat for the dusky Canada goose and other migratory waterfowl.
The refuge is a network of restored wetlands, providing year-round water for waterfowl and important resting and roosting habitat for both resident and migratory birds. The refuge's grass seed fields are managed to provide winter forage for geese. The refuge also providesforest sanctuary for wildlife which range from the tiny Pacific chorus frog to black-tailed deer.
Just off of Interstate 5, the refuge offers convenient access to miles of boardwalk and earthen trails as well as accessible viewing platforms. The refuge is home to the Ankeny Hill Nature Center, an environmental education hub for the Willamette Valley. Just off Ankeny Hill Rd. on the north end of the Refuge, here you'll find two loop trails, a Nature Explore Area, classrooms, education nodes, and a nature adventure designed for families and kids of all ages.
What We Do
Managing and restoring native Willamette Valley habitats is what we do. We provide homes for thousands of species - seven of which are designated as threatened or endangered.
The Willamette Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex (NWRC) has an active prescribed burning program. The objectives of these burns are to restore and maintain native prairies and oak savannas, enhance populations of threatened and endangered species, improve food crops for Canada geese, and reduce the risks for severe wildfire. Most burning takes place in the late summer or early fall.
Through cooperative agreements with local farmers, refuge fields are planted to grow ryegrass, fescue, corn and pasture mixes. These crops are the preferred food for wintering Canada geese. During the winter months thousands of geese feed on the crops planted by farmers. These farming operations help reduce off-refuge crop damage by migratory birds.
Control of non-native, invasive weeds is an important management operation. Weeds present the single most significant threat to native plant communities and rare species. The refuge uses a combination of mowing, burning, slashing, hand pulling and herbicides to keep weeds in check.
Throughout the refuges, former croplands are in different stages of being restored to native habitats. This process, which takes a number of years, includes clean-up of the fields of weeds and residual crops, site preparation for planting of native species and maintenance of the developing habitats.
The refuges are actively restoring both wetland and upland prairies and are working to enhance existing prairies that have been invaded by shrubs and small trees. The woody vegetation is cut and piled off-site where it is burned. Most treatment areas are selected to provide benefits to threatened and endangered plant species.
Seasonally flooded wetlands require continual management to produce plants favored by waterfowl and other water-birds. Water levels are usually “stage-flooded” in the fall and winter using water control structures that allow variable levels. This helps maximize the food availability for migrating waterfowl. Managed levels are also important in the spring to prevent the establishment of undesirable non-native plants, like reed canary-grass. In the summer, most managed impoundments are dry, a natural cycle that native plants have adapted to.
Oak Habitat Restoration
The suppression of fire following European settlement in the Willamette Valley has dramatically altered oak woodlands and savanna. The refuge complex is selectively restoring these areas by removing invading Douglas fir trees that will eventually overtop and shade out the oaks. In addition, oak trees and shrubs are thinned in order to maintain an open grassland understory. Management of these sites is accomplished in concert with adjacent prairie habitats and benefits rare species.
Northern pintail, Bald eagle, Oregon chub, Oregon ash, Great blue heron, Long-eared owl, Western pond turtle, beaver, black-tailed deer
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