Willapa National Wildlife Refuge
Pacific Region

Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program

Because the habitat needs of all Trust Species cannot be met solely on public lands, public funds are also expended on private lands to accomplish habitat improvements through conservation programs.

The Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program was created nearly 25 years ago to provide technical and financial assistance to private landowners and Tribes who are willing to work with the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service and other partners on a voluntary basis to conserve and enhance habitat for migratory birds, threatened and endangered species, interjurisdictional fish, marine mammals, and other species of concern. This important program continues to evolve and helps to implement the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s vision for Strategic Habitat Conservation (SHC) and Landscape Level Cooperatives (LCC). 

The locally-based Partners for Fish and Wildlife biologist works one-on-one with private landowners and other partners to plan, implement and monitor habitat restoration/conservation projects for trust species. This biologist also helps landowners find funding sources and assists in the planning process.

Current Partners Projects at Willapa NWR

Leadbetter Coastal Dune and Beach Restoration
In an effort to restore additional coastal dune habitat, Willapa National Wildlife Refuge Complex is partnering with Leadbetter Farms, LCC and Washington Department of Parks and Recreation Commission. Since the 1960’s the sandy coastline has been invaded by nonnative American and European beach grasses. These grasses grow tightly together and spread easily through underground rhizomes. The dense vegetation alters the dunes in many ways, including trapping sand which slows sand movement and creates higher dunes, limiting habitat for native dune plant species such as the pink sandverbena through competition for resources, and decreasing habitat for western snowy plovers and streaked horned larks by minimizing open sandy areas needed for nesting and foraging birds.

Utilizing the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, this project will restore approximately 6 acres (2.4 hectares) back to open, sparsely vegetated coastal dune habitat. The first phase of the project involves applying an herbicide treatment and the mechanical removal of invasive nonnative beach grasses. Reopening the dune system will provide essential habitat to migratory birds, resident wildlife, and native plants.

Ellsworth Creek Preserve Forest Restoration
In 2004, forest wildlife in coastal southwest Washington got a helping hand when a new partnership was formed. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) combined resources with Willapa National Wildlife Refuge Complex to develop a long term management and restoration plan to direct efforts to restore late successional/old-growth coastal forest habitat essential to a myriad of coastal wildlife and plant species.

The partnership between the Refuge and TNC, utilizes personnel and resources from both organizations to work together for wildlife on a landscape level. Restoration activities include, the decommission of roads and forest thinning. The decommission of unnecessary roads reduces risk of road failure, restores the natural hydrological function of the stream, and reduces sediment loading of streams, rivers, and the bay. The removal of roads also reconnects forest habitat. Modified thinning and commercial harvesting of trees helps to increase forest stand diversity and health, and creates canopy openings for nesting marbled murrelets.

Upper Elochoman River Forested Riparian and Wetland Restoration
Approximately 3 river miles of the Elochoman River and surrounded riparian habitat is being restored through a partnership with the Columbia Land Trust. This project is essential in restoring forest habitat on a landscape-level beyond Refuge boundaries to increase overall habitat availability, restore vertical and horizontal forest stand diversity, protect in-stream habitat, and restore late successional/old-growth-forest-characteristic habitat essential to threatened marbled murrelet, northern spotted owl, and other forested riparian-dependent animal and plant species. The project area is adjacent to a 400 acre (162 hectare) habitat occupied by marbled murrelet, which is owned and managed by the Washington Department of Natural Resources.

For more information on this program in Southwest Washington contact Terri Butler-Bates at (360) 484-3482



Federal Trust Species is a legal term that includes migratory birds, threatened species, endangered species, interjurisdictional fish, marine mammals and other species of concern.

Dozers are used to removed non-native beach grass as part of the Refuge's on-going coastal dune conservation efforts.

Roads are removed and hillsides are restored to natural slopes as part of Refuge forest conservations efforts.

Last updated: March 12, 2013