About the Willapa Complex

Many of the landscapes found within the Willapa Refuge Complex appear untouched my people/Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach
  • What's a Complex?

    Julia Butler Hansen Refuge for the Columbian White-tailed Deer is managed as part of the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge Complex. A National Wildlife Refuge Complex is an administrative grouping of two or more refuges, wildlife management areas or other refuge conservation areas that are primarily managed from a central office location.  Refuges are grouped into a complex structure because they occur in a similar ecological region, such as a watershed or specific habitat type, and have a related purpose and management needs.  Typically, a project leader or complex manager oversees the general management of all refuges within the complex and refuge managers are responsible for operations at specific refuges. Supporting staff, composed of administrative, law enforcement, refuge manager, biological, visitor services, and maintenance professionals, are generally, but not always, centrally located and support all refuges within the complex.

    Other refuges in the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge Complex include:  Willapa National Wildlife Refuge and Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge Complex headquarters is located at 3888 State Route 101, Ilwaco, WA 98624 (near mile marker 24).


  • Willapa National Wildlife Refuge

    Willapa National Wildlife Refuge has a diversity of habitats from forest to bay, and rivers to coastal dunes/USFWS Photo

    Willapa National Wildlife Refuge is over 15,000 acres of tidelands, temperate rainforest, ocean beaches, and small streams. It also includes several rare remnants of old growth coastal cedar forest. Preserving habitat for spawning wild salmon, hundreds of thousands of migrating shorebirds, and threatened species such as the western snowy plover and marbled murrelet, the refuge is a great place to see what the Pacific Northwest looked like over 100 years ago.

  • Julia Butler Hansen Refuge for Columbian White-tailed Deer

    Springtime at the refuge and Columbian white-tailed bucks grow new antlers/USFWS Photo

    Julia Butler Hansen Refuge for Columbian White-tailed Deer was established in the 1970s to preserve habitat for the endangered Columbian white-tailed deer (CWTD). The CWTD is the only white-tailed deer found west of the Cascade Mountains, and was believed to be extinct since the 1930s. When a small remnant population was discovered in the early 1960s, the refuge was quickly established to preserve the species and help it to recovery.

  • Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge

    Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge encompasses a variety of islands in the Columbia River/USFWS Photo

    Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge encompasses approximately 20 islands and stretches over 27 miles of the Columbia River, from the mouth of the river upstream to Skamakowa, WA. Although rarely visited by humans, this refuge is a haven for migratory waterfowl, songbirds, raptors, amphibians and fish.