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History of McKay Creek

McKay Creek Dam & Refuge History

Dam Illustration

Really like history? This is the page for you. Learn about the making of the McKay Creek NWR and Dam.

History of McKay Creek Refuge & Dam

About the Complex

Mid-Columbia River Refuges

The Mid-Columbia River Refuges are eight refuges within the Columbia Basin.

McKay Creek is managed as part of the Mid-Columbia River Refuges.

Learn more about the complex 

About the NWRS

National Wildlife Refuge System


The National Wildlife Refuge System, within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, manages a national network of lands and waters set aside to conserve America’s fish, wildlife, and plants.

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Of Interest

  • Ospreys & Baling Twine

    Osprey In Nest

    Osprey are common along our rivers and lakes—anywhere there is water and fish. Unlike most other birds, they make little attempt to hide their nests, making it easy to follow a nest from egg laying right through the young leaving the nest to fend for themselves. Unfortunately, the manner in which ospreys build their nests clashes with our propensity to litter. In the wild, ospreys often line their nests with lichens, mosses and grasses. However, they will readily use substitute materials, which, sadly, often means baling twine and fishing line. The problem is it can kill them. All too often, they become entangled in the line, suffering gruesome deaths by strangulation or starvation. Researchers at the University of Montana estimate that as much as 10 to 30 percent of osprey chicks and adults in some areas are killed by this baling twine, fish nets, or fishing line. Every year, we’re called to rescue an entangled osprey, but we often arrive too late, or don’t have the resources to pull off a rescue. Many utility companies, such as the Benton REA, have been wonderful partners in helping us rescue ospreys, but we really need your help. When you’re outside, pick up any twine, rope, fishing line, etc.—you may just be saving one of these magnificent birds from a cruel death.

    University of Montana Osprey Project
  • Fishing & Other Spring Things

    Jumping FishMarch 01, 2017

    Time to grab your fishing poles and get ready to hit the water! McKay Creek NWR opens to the public on the morning of March 1st. The north end of the refuge has been closed all winter to provide sanctuary for wintering waterfowl. Waterfowl are returning north, and the refuge will reopen for all of your favorite activities. In addition to fishing, spring is a great time for watching wildlife. The first goslings will be born soon, followed closely by the first ducklings. Keep visiting throughout the spring for a chance to see tiny California quail darting to and fro behind their parents. Many types of swallows will be arriving, and the call of the meadow lark will begin ringing soon. As the weather grows warmer, and we see green appear everywhere, McKay Creek NWR becomes a wonderful place to experience spring!

Page Photo Credits — Ducks in Flight - Chuck & Grace Bartlett, Barn Owlets - Kevin Keatley, Little Brown Myotis - Michael Durham & Bat Conservation International
Last Updated: Mar 17, 2017
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