National Wildlife Refuge System

William L. Finley Refuge Celebrates 75 Years

Roosevelt elk, along with great horned owls and acorn woodpeckers live in the upland forest and savanna of William L. Finley Refuge, OR.
Credit: J. Staff

April 3, 2014 - Established in 1964, William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon was named for the man who helped persuade President Theodore Roosevelt to set aside the first national wildlife refuge west of the Mississippi River. 

William L. Finley climbed trees and cliffs to photograph wildlife in coastal Oregon.
Credit: USFWS
William Finley, who lugged heavy camera equipment onto the cliffs and marshes of the Oregon coast in the early 1900s,  used his photographs to “spread a message across the land of the need to save habitat,” according to an historian for the Audubon Society of Portland.  Friends of the Willamette Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex is offering a program about Finley on May 4 in Corvallis, Oregon. 

A primary purpose of William L. Finley Refuge, OR, is to provide wintering habitat for the dusky Canada goose.
Credit: USFWS

Dusky Canada geese nest in Alaska’s Copper River Delta and winter almost exclusively in the wetlands of the Willamette Valley.  Originally drained and used for farming and pasture, more than 5,000 acres have been restored to wetlands on the refuge.   Riparian habitat supports western pond turtles and red-legged frogs, while acorn woodpeckers, great horned owls and Roosevelt elk live in the upland Oregon white oak savannas.

William L. Finley Refuge is open for deer and big game hunting. There are numerous hiking    trails and an auto-tour route with numerous pullouts for photographers.  Observation blinds on the Homer Campbell Boardwalk and McFadden Marsh Trail also provide excellent photography opportunities. Visitors are encouraged to submit wildlife sightings online.

The refuge is celebrating its 50th birthday with a Wetlands, Wildflowers & Wonder Festival on May 10.


Refuge Update “Look Back” article on William L. Finley

Last updated: April 3, 2014