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National Wildlife Refuge

28908 NW Main Ave.
Ridgefield, WA   98642
E-mail: eric_anderson@fws.gov
Phone Number: 360-887-4106
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Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge is located on the shore of the Lower Columbia River, 10 miles downstream from the Portland/Vancouver metropolitan area. This 5,217 acre refuge contains a mosaic of riverine flood plain habitat, intensively managed seasonal and permanent wetlands, and agricultural lands.

The refuge contains the historic Cathlapotle townsite, which was visited by the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1806, and today is one of the best-preserved Native American sites in the Northwest United States. Ridgefield Refuge provides high quality wintering habitat for a variety of waterfowl, particularly dusky Canada goose and lesser sandhill cranes.

Currently hosting 165,000 visitors annually, the refuge provides excellent wildlife viewing opportunities via a 4-mile auto tour route and two developed hiking trails. It also provides excellent outdoor classroom opportunities for Portland/Vancouver area schools, including natural resource, cultural, and historic information.

Getting There . . .
To reach the Carty and River S Units of the refuge, take the Ridgefield exit from Interstate 5 approximately 20 miles north of Vancouver, Washington.

Drive 3 miles west to Ridgefield, where you will see signs directing you to these units.

Click here for a map of the refuge.

Get Google map and directions to this refuge/WMD from a specified address:

Your full starting address AND town and state OR zip code

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NOTE: When using this feature, you will be leaving the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service domain. We do not control the content or policies of the site you are about to visit. You should always check site policies before providing personal information or reusing content.

These driving directions are provided as a general guide only. No representation is made or warranty given as to their content, road conditions or route usability or expeditiousness. User assumes all risk of use.

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Wildlife and Habitat

Columbia Refuge lies along the lower reaches of the Columbia River. The refuge contains a lush mixture of seasonal, semi-permanent, and permanent wetlands, grasslands, riparian corridors, and forests of Douglas-fir and Oregon white oak. These habitats, combined with a mild, rainy winter climate, provide an ideal environment for migrating birds and wintering waterfowl.

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Long before Euro-Americans arrived on the lower Columbia River, its rich natural resources sustained large numbers of people. The remains of a large Native American village on the refuge bear testimony to their existence and their enduring relationship with the natural environment.

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    Recreation and Education Opportunities
Environmental Education
Wildlife Observation
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Management Activities
As the fingers of urban sprawl and development begin to reach new areas, there is an ever-increasing need to maximize the availability of quality habitat for wildlife. This is the case at Ridgefield Refuge. As less land is available for wildlife habitat, refuge staff use their resources to produce the best quality habitat possible to support larger and more diverse populations of native plants and animals.

Like farmers who tend their crops, refuge managers may intensively manage wildlife habitat to maximize the production of food for wildlife. Wetland flooding and draining, farming, grazing, mowing, invasive species removal, and regulating visitor use are common practices on refuge lands.

The primary focus of management is to provide habitat for wintering waterfowl, with a special emphasis on Canada geese. Of special concern is the dusky Canada geese, a subspecies which nests in the Copper River delta of Alaska and winters along the lower Columbia River and Willamette River valley in Oregon.

The refuge currently manages water levels on the River S, Bachelor Island, and Ridgeport Dairy Units, with water generally pumped into the unit prior to the arrival of wintering waterfowl and pumped out in the early summer to promote the growth of desirable moist soil waterfowl food plants. Water control structures can provide management of water levels within the wetlands.

The water delivery system provides water to wetlands during the winter for a variety of water birds, and is used to hold water in some units during the summer for rearing of wetland birds and other wetland dependent wildlife. Cooperating farmers and refuge staff farm approximately 1,500 acres to provide a variety of crops for wintering waterfowl--primarily improved pasture and corn.

The refuge allows cooperators to graze cattle and harvest hay between late spring and early fall; and both cooperators and refuge staff mow pasture and canarygrass. These activities provide short, tender grass for Canada geese when they are on the refuge from October through April.

Service biologists work cooperatively with State wildlife agencies to monitor wintering goose populations. Other important species monitored on the refuge include painted turtles, bald eagles, great blue herons, purple martins, sandhill cranes, and the threatened aquatic plant water howellia. Monitoring these native species and other resources helps guide refuge habitat management practices and conservation efforts.