Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Wildlife Refuge Locator: Online Guide To Washington, U.S.

by Matt Rosenberg January 28th, 2011

SUMMARY: A U.S. government online compendium provides convenient access on a state-by-state basis to official Web pages of national wildlife refuges. The Web guide to these facilities may be used for day-trip and vacation planning, as background information for visitors, and a research resource. In Washington state, there are 23 national wildlife refuges featuring a wide range of habitats and species.

BACKGROUND: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Wildlife Refuge Locator is an online map-based interface allowing users to click on any of the 50 states for a map-based aggregation of links to official USFWS Web pages of national wildlife refuges in those state. We take a look here at what the database tells us about national wildlife refuges in Washington state.

KEY LINK: National Wildlife Refuge Locator, Washington State, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Drumheller Channels, Columbia National Wildlife Refuge

USER INSTRUCTIONS: From the National Wildlife Refuge Locator hub, which displays a map of all 50 states, click directly on Washington. That will take you to the Locator’s Washington state map page. There, click directly on the typed name of any refuge (not the nearby map dot). You will arrive at a page with an overview of the site, a description of its location and a shortcut to Google Maps for more precise location data and customized directions. Each overview page includes a link to the refuge’s full Web site, for further information.

KEY FINDINGS

Washington State has 23 National Wildlife Refuges. Most, though not all, have sections which are open to visitors for hiking and respectful observation of species and natural environments. Overviews of several follow.

Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge on the Olympic Peninsula features a 5.5-mile long spit which can be hiked to the end, where a lighthouse and museum are open to visitors. The refuge gained protected status in 1915 at the behest of President Woodrow Wilson. It has been visited by some 250 recorded species of birds, 41 land mammal and eight marine mammal species. Black Brant geese proliferate in April, and harbor seals give birth to pups at the end of the spit. The refuge is especially popular with families, and is accessed by a short hike through a wooded area.

Willapa National Wildlife Refuge is considered an especially unspoiled estuary. It has more than 260 square miles of water surfaces and varied ecosystems such as salt marshes, tideflats, old growth forest, and coastal dunes and beaches. Brown pelicans, marbled murrelets, bald eagles and great blue herons are on view.

The Julia Butler Hansen Refuge For The Columbia White-Tailed Deer comprises 5,600 acres along the Columbia River in Washington and Oregon. It includes pastures, forested tidal swamps and marshes. In addition to the namesake deer, it is home to wintering birds, elk, river otter, painted turtles, red-legged frogs, nesting eagles and osprey.

Columbia National Wildlife Refuge features cliffs, canyons, lakes and sagebrush grasslands. It was carved out by long-ago fires, ice, floods and volcanic activity, and sits amidst the Drumheller Channelled Scablands, which include the dramatically eroded Drumheller Channels, named a National Natural Landmark. Among bird species prevalent are mallard ducks, Canada geese and tundra swans.

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