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National Wildlife Refuge

26010 South Smith Rd
Cheney, WA   99004 - 9326
E-mail: Dan_Matiatos@fws.gov
Phone Number: 509-235-4723
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A mosaic of habitats supports a diversity of wildlife at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.
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Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge

Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge is located in an area of northeastern Washington on the eastern edge of the Columbia River Basin, known as the Channeled Scablands. This rugged terrain supports an unusual pattern of wetlands, rock, ponderosa pine and aspen forests, grassland, and shrub-steppe habitat. Located within the Pacific Flyway, the refuge includes deep permanent sloughs, semi-permanent potholes, and seasonal wetlands. This mosaic provides important habitat for migrating and breeding waterfowl and other water birds.

The upland habitat, primarily ponderosa pine/grassland mixed with exposed basalt cliffs and areas of meadow and shrub-steppe, supports a large variety of wildlife. More than 200 different kinds of birds have been recorded in this area.

Mammals include moose, elk, mule and white-tailed deer, coyote, badger, porcupine, muskrat, beaver, and 11 species of bats. The refuge provides habitat for two species Federally--listed as endangered or threatened--water howellia and Spalding's catchfly.

Getting There . . .
The refuge is south of Cheney, Washington. You can reach the public use area by driving 4 miles south from Highway 904 in Cheney on the Cheney-Plaza Road.

The refuge entrance is marked by a large entrance sign and arrow pointing down Smith Road. Drive about 2 miles east on Smith Road to reach the refuge headquarters and public use area. The environmental education classroom is located at the refuge headquarters.

Click link here for a refuge map.

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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

Turnbull Refuge is located in an area of eastern Washington on the edge of the Columbia River Basin, known as the channeled scablands, a blend of mounds, depressions, and exposed basalt.

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Prior to settlement, ducks, geese, and other waterbirds nested here in large numbers. Many waterfowl also used the productive marshes and lakes during the spring and fall migrations. Because of its unique resources, this area was also important to local indigenous cultures. The Northern Plateau peoples frequented this vicinity in spring to to dig the roots of camas, bitterroot, wild onion, and numerous species of lomatium, and to gather waterfowl eggs.

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    Recreation and Education Opportunities
Environmental Education
Wildlife Observation
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Management Activities
Although the main focus of habitat management has been waterfowl, the refuge's mission now includes restoring and maintaining the native ecosystem processes of this unique area. This means that habitat on the refuge will be managed to sustain the diversity of fauna native to the Channeled Scablands.

To achieve habitat diversity, fire has been reintroduced into this fire-dependent ecosystem. Wetlands, once drained for agricultural purposes, have been restored. Native vegetation is planted in disturbed areas. And research is conducted on various habitats and wildlife to direct future management.

The refuge has two Research Natural Areas (RNAs): Turnbull Pines RNA and Pine Creek RNA. Each RNA is a site where some natural features are preserved for scientific purposes and natural processes are allowed to predominate.

The 196-acre Turnbull Pines RNA, surrounding the Turnbull Laboratory for Ecological Studies is mostly ponderosa pine forest with a few scattered groves of quaking aspen and wetlands. The 160-acre Pine Creek RNA, near the eastern boundary of the public use area, exemplifies relatively undisturbed savanna of ponderosa pine and bunchgrasses.

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