Lewis & Clark National Wildlife Refuge
Pacific Region


The broad estuary of the Columbia River, where the fresh water of the land mingles with the salt water of the ocean, has played a vital role in natural and human history for thousands of years.

As it nears the ocean, the slowing current deposits the river's silt load to form low, marshy islands and sandbars. Twice a day, the islands are part of the land, and twice they are reclaimed by the water where rising ocean tides slow the river's current. These estuary islands form a chain that begins just above Tongue Point and follows the Oregon shore of the main channel upriver to Tenasillahe Island. The Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1972 to preserve the estuary land and water as vital fish and wildlife habitat. The refuge includes 35,000 acres of islands, bars, mud flats and tidal marshes.

The refuge is the largest marsh in western Oregon and provides habitat for peak populations of 1,000 tundra swans, 5,000 Canada geese and 50,000 ducks in February and March each year as they gather here before the northward migration.

The Columbia River surrounding Lewis & Clark NWR is subject to large tidal swings. Because some of the lower islands can be entirely submerged at high tide, navigation can be challenging.

Although the refuge is open year-round, the best time to visit to see large numbers of wildlife is from October through April. Always check the tides at: http://www.saltwatertides.com

Comprehensive Conservation Planning

Comprehensive Conservation Plans (CCPs) describe the desired future conditions of a refuge and provide long-range guidance and management direction to achieve refuge purposes; help fulfill the National Wildlife Refuge System (Refuge System) mission; maintain and, where appropriate, restore the ecological integrity of each refuge and the Refuge System; help achieve the goals of the National Wilderness Preservation System; and meet other mandates.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must manage all national wildlife refuges according to an approved CCP. The current Julia Butler Hansen Refuge for the Columbian White-tailed Deer and the Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge CCP was completed in 2010. The CCP will be revised every 15 years, or earlier, if monitoring and evaluation determine that we need changes to achieve planning unit purpose(s), vision, goals, or objectives.

For more specific information on the Lewis and Clark NWR CCP please visit our Refuge Planning Website.

Trapping Occurs on this Refuge

Trapping is a wildlife management tool used on some national wildlife refuges. Trapping may be used to protect endangered and threatened species or migratory birds or to control certain wildlife populations. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also views trapping as a legitimate recreational and economic activity when there are harvestable surpluses of fur-bearing mammals. Outside of Alaska, refuges that permit trapping as a recreational use may require trappers to obtain a refuge special use permit. Signs are posted on refuges where trapping occurs. Contact the refuge manager for specific regulations. Click here for more information.

Last updated: December 1, 2011