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Little Pend Oreille
National Wildlife Refuge

1310 Bear Creek Rd
Colville, WA   99114 - 9713
E-mail: lpo@fws.gov
Phone Number: 509-684-8384
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Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge

Named for the river that flows through its northern expanse, Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge includes over 40,000 acres on the west slope of the Selkirk Mountain Range in northeastern Washington. It is the only mountainous, mixed-conifer forest refuge outside of Alaska.

Continental ice sheets from the north excavated and molded valleys and scoured lakes more than 10,000 years ago. Elevations range from 1,800 feet on the refuge's western lowlands to 5,610 feet on its eastern boundary at Olson Peak. Within this elevation range are six forest zones, including ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, grand fir, western red cedar, western hemlock, and subalpine fir. These forests provide important habitats for hundreds of species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians, including songbirds, forest carnivores, and the bald eagle. Refuge lands provide protection for wide-ranging species that require large tracts of forest habitat and provide critical winter range for white-tailed deer.

More than 50,000 visitors enjoy the refuge each year. Hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, hiking, camping, and horseback riding are the most popular recreational activities.

Getting There . . .
From the intersection of Highway 395 and Highway 20 (Main and Third) in Colville, go 6 miles east on Highway 20 to Artman-Gibson Road. Turn right on this road; and go 1.7 miles to an intersection with 4 corners. Turn left onto Kitt-Narcisse Road; and go 2.2 miles until the road forks. Bear right onto Bear Creek Road; and go 3.3 miles to the refuge office, which is a log building on the right.

Three of the nine entrances are open year-round to vehicle access: Bear Creek, Narcisse Creek, and Buffalo-Wilson. The other six entrances are closed to vehicle travel between January 1 and April 14. To view a map of the refuge, including entrances, click here.

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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

Fire, wind, ice, landslides, insects, disease, and human activities are some of the forces influencing forest dynamics. The range of elevations, climate, and soil types on the refuge combine to create diverse plant communities. Sandy loam soils, derived from glacial drift, underlay most of the area. Eighteen to 25 inches of moisture in the form of rain or snow fall in the valleys, and up to 40 inches at higher altitudes.

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Since the ice receded more than 10,000 years ago, this landscape has been traversed by Native Americans, fur trappers and traders, miners, loggers, and homesteaders. The spirits of these people animate this land, linking their history to many place names.

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    Recreation and Education Opportunities
Wildlife Observation
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Management Activities
Because forests take many years to reach maturity, it is important to have a mixture of ages and stand structures at any given time. Some wildlife species can only survive in certain forest types, such as mature and old growth habitats.

Past human activity, including fire suppression, land clearing and planting for agricultural uses, and removal of mature and old forests, has compromised refuge forests. Excessive fuels from downed trees, branches, needles, and dead grasses, conversion of stands to shade-tolerant, fire-sensitive tree species, and more trees per acre than normal have made refuge forests vulnerable to stand-replacing fires.

Restoring forest habitats and creating more stands of large and old trees, currently rare on the forest landscape, requires active forest management. Thinning and prescribed fire are the main tools used to manage refuge forests. These tools mimic natural processes under which these forests evolve. Thinning reduces tree densities and competition, allowing the remaining trees to grow more rapidly. Prescribed fire, when used properly, can reduce dangerous fuels, recycle nutrients, and open up space for new plant growth, providing better cover and food for wildlife.

Restoring riparian or streamside habitats degraded by past land uses is another management priority. Reducing erosion, stabilizing streambanks, providing buffers for some activities, and planting shrubs and trees are some techniques used to repair these damaged habitats.

Exotic plants or weeds are serious threats to native wildlife habitats. Controlling their spread is necessary to maintain refuge habitat integrity. Tools used to reduce the extent and spread of weeds include mechanical, chemical, and biological treatments. Mechanical treatments are hand pulling, mowing, or removing weed flowers and seeds. Chemicals, carefully applied by licensed applicators, are effective in managing some weed species. Biological treatments include use of insects that inhibit growth of undesireable plants.

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