National Wildlife Refuge
|3888 State Route 101
Ilwaco, WA 98624
Phone Number: 360-484-3482
|Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
|Dunlin rest on the mudflats of Willapa Bay/Photo courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach|
Continued . . . Leadbetter Point provides food and cover for a diverse array of wildlife. Biologists have recorded over 100 species of birds on Leadbetter Point alone.
Long Island is unique in being the Pacific Coast's largest estuarine island. Long Island's 5,400 acres contain a 274-acre remnant of old growth lowland coastal forest known as Cedar Grove. Some western red cedars in this grove have been growing over 900 years. The rain-drenched forests on Long Island grow rapidly and densely, with salal, huckleberry, and salmonberry bushes carpeting the forest floor beneath tall western hemlock, Sitka spruce, and western red cedar trees. Fallen trees, called nurse logs, provide shelter and a rich growing medium for young trees to grow. The damp, moss-laden forests, sand and mud beaches, tidal saltgrass marshes, and mudflats offer rich habitats for a wide variety of animal species.
The forests of Long Island are home to mammals such as black bear, Roosevelt elk, black-tailed deer, beaver, and river otter. The mature forests provide special niches for numerous sensitive wildlife species. The largest trees provide wide, sturdy limbs suitable for the platform nests of marbled murrelets, a seabird that has lost much of its historical nesting habitat due to logging of old growth forests. Bald eagles and great blue herons also nest in large trees on the island.
Standing dead trees, or snags, contain nesting cavities for species such as pileated woodpeckers, flying squirrels, and spotted owls. Roosting silver-haired bats and Pacific tree frogs find cover in the loose and creviced bark of old trees. Fallen trees provide habitat for the rare Van Dyke's and Dunn's sallamander. Willapa Refuge has more amphibian diversity than any other wildlife refuge in the state of Washington.
The nutrient-rich marine environment surrounding Long Island supports oysters, clams, crabs, salmon, steelhead, and many other marine organisms. There are vast beds of eelgrass on the west side of Long Island that provide important nursery grounds for young fish, including Pacific herring, salmon, sea perch, and sole. Brant also concentrate here in spring to forage on eelgrass in sheltered portions of the bay.
The grasslands established on diked tidelands in the Riekkola Unit, at the south end of the bay, provide shelter and feeding areas for Canada geese, ducks, and shorebirds. Grazing cattle in the summer create fields of short grass in the fall for six subspecies of Canada geese, including the rare Aleutian and Dusky. The grasslands and neighboring forested areas provide habitat for bear, elk, and bobcat.
The Lewis and Porter's Point Units provide freshwater marsh habitat for a diverse assemblage of waterbirds, as well as amphibians, anadromous fish, and aquatic mammals. Water levels are managed to provide abundant food for migratory waterfowl, rearing habitat for salmonids, and breeding habitat for aquatic amphibians. Shorebirds roost on islands within the units and forage on invertebrates in both the freshwater environment and adjacent marine habitats.
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