Julia Butler Hansen Refuge for the Columbian White-tailed deer/Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach

The refuge is rich in habitat diversity. From fields to forests, to swamps and streams, the habitat found here is a great home for wildlife, and an exciting place to visit.

  • Columbia River Estuary

    The Columbia River is an estuary and is affected by daily ocean tides/USFWS Photo

    The habitats of the Refuge are part of the larger Columbia River estuary ecosystem. The river is affected by the influx of daily ocean tides creating a variety of habitats and hosting a diversity of wildlife.


  • Short-grass Fields

    Cows are used to manage short-grass field for wildlife/USFWS Photo

    Grasslands occupy 2,384 acres on the Julia Butler Hansen Refuge and are an important habitat for wildlife. Grasslands are not native habitats of the refuges; rather, they were created when dikes were constructed and former marsh and swamp habitat was cleared and drained for agriculture.

    Explore more about this managed habitat…

  • Riparian Forest

    Riparian forests offer diverse habitat for a variety of wildlife/Photo Courtesy of Rollin Bannow

    Riparian forests are highly diverse and variable. Red alder, sitka spruce and western red cedar trees dominate. Dense shrubs of salmonberry, willow, vine maple, skunk cabbage and ferns help shade streams and create habitat for a diverse group of wildlife.

    Find out more about this dynamic wet habitat...


  • Non-tidal Wetlands and Sloughs

    Skunk cabbage grows throughout wet meadows/Photo Courtesy of Rollin Bannow

    Non-tidal, freshwater, wetlands and sloughs on the refuge primarily occur inside the diked areas. They are seasonal in nature and form in depressions where winter rainfall creates pools. They are home to a variety of wildlife and serve as nurseries for amphibians, dragonflies and fish.

    Discover more about this freshwater habitat…

  • Tidal Wetlands and Swamps

    Tidal swamps are found along non-diked shorelines/Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach

    This marshy habitat is influenced by the fluctuations of the tide. Of the principal habitats of the Columbia River estuary, tidal swamps have been the most heavily impacted by human activities, like diking and drainage. Discover why they are important components of the refuge.

    Uncover more about Refuge swamps…

  • Open Water

    The Columbia River provides open water habitat - a highway for aquatic mammals and fish/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.

    Learn more about the importance of open water habitat…