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Franz Lake
National Wildlife Refuge

Near Milepost 31, State Highway 14
Skamania County, WA   
E-mail: Jim_Clapp@fws.gov
Phone Number: 360-835-8767
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
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It was not until the early 1850s, when many of the best agricultural lands had already been claimed by settlers, that the first European land claimants settled along the north shore of the Columbia. Due to the lack of mention of Franz and Arthur Lakes by early explorers and settlers, it is believed that the lakes were formed some time between 1850 and 1908, when Jacob Franz acquired the land. They may have been formed by one of the three major floods that occurred in 1862, 1876, and 1894.

During the heyday of steamboats in the Pacific Northwest (1880s to 1920s), many people earned a living by cutting and selling cordwood to fuel the boilers that propelled the steamboats. Louis and Kenzy Marr ran a small woodcutting operation in the Franz Lake area and developed a wood loading facility at Marrs landing, a rocky area at the east end of the refuge.

Water-driven fishwheels, whose rotating baskets were used to harvest fish, were introduced to the Columbia River in 1879. These machines were capable of harvesting thousands of pounds of fish per day. Three fishwheels were located on the shore of what is now Pierce Refuge. Due to severe declines in fish populations, fishwheels were outlawed in Washington in 1934.

Franz Lake Refuge was established in 1990 to preserve biodiversity along the Columbia River by protecting floodplain wetlands, riparian habitats, and forrested watershed buffers.

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