Open Water Conservation

Ships navigate the Columbia River/Photo Courtesy of Rollin Bannow

High-quality open water habitat in the estuary is important for resting and foraging waterfowl, shorebirds, marsh birds, and wading birds, as well as migratory fish populations, including threatened and endangered salmonids. Through an active role in local, State, and Federal partnerships, the Refuge works to maintain and improve the overall water quality and ecological integrity of the lower Columbia River estuary.

Conservation efforts include: 

  • Protect and promote natural processes to dictate vegetative changes and water depths.
  • Work with other agencies and partners to identify off-refuge sources of contaminants and to reduce impacts when possible.
  • Work with other agencies and partners to preserve open water habitat for wildlife. 

The US Coast Guard has authority over the navigable waters in the river, and the ODSL controls much, but not all of the river bottom and tidelands. The refuge works with these and other partners, such as the Corps, in order to protect wildlife in open water locations and in adjacent river islands and tidal sloughs. As with other estuary habitats, these areas are outside of any flood protection dikes and subject to natural processes, therefore, little if any physical management actions are appropriate for these areas.