Youth waterfowl hunting unit low water conditions and mudflats. Picture facing southeast into the unit.
Drought Conditions Impacting Turnbull 2023 Youth Waterfowl Hunt

Refuge staff have monitored the water conditions for the Turnbull NWR waterfowl hunt area throughout the summer and early fall. We are in the third year of an ongoing drought with little to no measurable precipitation since early spring of 2023. On September 18th, we toured the hunt area and found very little water and few waterfowl in the hunt area. As of this post, the only hunt blind area that will marginally support waterfowl hunting is Blind 4. Blind 4 has approximately 50 feet of mudflat between the blind vegetation and open water. The shallow open water would likely not support standard floating decoys with a keel and weight system. As a result, the hunting opportunity and overall experience for hunting ducks at Turnbull NWR should be considered marginal. We will not be closing the Junior Waterfowl hunt at Turnbull NWR; if there are any questions regarding the Youth Waterfowl hunt, don't hesitate to contact the Refuge Manager at 509-599-4723.

Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge encompasses over 23,000 acres in eastern Washington on the edge of the Columbia River Basin. The Channeled Scablands ecosystem that predominates the Refuge is unique within the National Wildlife Refuge System. Ponderosa pine, wetlands, meadow steppe and riparian habitat dominate the landscape. The refuge is approximately a 40-minute drive from Spokane, Washington. An abundance and diversity of wildlife and wildflowers awaits the traveling visitor.
Friends of Turnbull NWR Seek Volunteer Assistance

The Friends of Turnbull NWR are recruiting volunteers to assist with staffing the nature store. Shifts are generally 4 hours. Openings are available every day. Applicants will go through an application and reference check process. For more information, please contact Lorna Kropp, President of Friends, at

Visit Us

Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge is open between 6 am and 6 pm from November - April and between 6 am and 9 pm from May - October. Entrance the refuge is free. Visitors will find information on the refuge’s history, wildlife, and management at the interpretive kiosks at the refuge’s entrance, public restrooms, headquarters, and trailheads. The visitor contact station offers additional information and hands-on activities as well as books and other gift ideas at the Friends of Turnbull nature store. Over 10 miles of hiking trails, including 3 accessible trails, are available in the public use area. Blackhorse Lake offers an accessible boardwalk that allows all visitors easy lake viewing. All visitors are required to stay on designated trails and roads March 1 through August 15.

Location and Contact Information

      A woman and a young girl look through binoculars into the distance
      Wildlife Viewing Tips

      The patient observer will be rewarded with many wildlife viewing opportunities. Early morning and evening are the best times to observe wildlife. Spring migration occurs from mid-March through mid-May and fall migration from September through November. Most waterfowl can be found on wetlands along the auto tour route. A variety of other wildlife may be observed along the trails in the riparian riparian
      Definition of riparian habitat or riparian areas.

      Learn more about riparian
      , ponderosa pine forest, or grassland habitats.  

      Binoculars, camera, field guides, water, and a lunch will contribute to a pleasant visit. Quietly listen for calls and songs and wait for wildlife to resume their activities. Use your car as a blind for wildlife viewing and photography. Observation blinds may be available to allow a close-up view of wildlife with minimal disturbance.

      About Us

      Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge is located within a globally unique geological area known as the Channeled Scablands, created by massive scouring from ice age floods approximately 15,000 years ago. An extensive complex of deep permanent sloughs, semi-permanent potholes, and seasonal wetlands formed in the depressions left in the scoured landscape, while soils only centimeters thick on upland sites support ponderosa pine forests interspersed with grassland (steppe) communities on exposed basalt cliffs. Aspen is scattered throughout the area. The juxtaposition of all these contrasting habitats in such close proximity is unique to the Channeled Scablands and creates conditions of exceptional wildlife and plant diversity. 


      To schedule a program, tour, or field trip of Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge, contact Ranger Josh at 509-559-3034, or via email at

      What We Do

      Every national wildlife refuge national wildlife refuge
      A national wildlife refuge is typically a contiguous area of land and water managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  for the conservation and, where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

      Learn more about national wildlife refuge
      was created for a special purpose. Some were created to protect migratory birds, others to protect threatened or endangered species or unique habitats, while others fulfill another special purpose. Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge was established to protect migratory waterfowl, with a more recent focus on redhead ducks. All activities allowed on the refuge must be evaluated to make sure each activity will not conflict with the reason the refuge was founded.

      Our Organization

      The mission of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is "working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people."

      Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge has numerous programs to effectively manage wildlife and habitat native to this ecosystem and to provide visitor services compatible to our refuge's mission and goals. Wildlife Management-related programs include fire management, forest restoration, water and wetland management, private lands conservation, invasive species invasive species
      An invasive species is any plant or animal that has spread or been introduced into a new area where they are, or could, cause harm to the environment, economy, or human, animal, or plant health. Their unwelcome presence can destroy ecosystems and cost millions of dollars.

      Learn more about invasive species
      control, inventory and monitoring, and wildlife population management. To assist us in meeting our management goals and objectives we provide environmental education and volunteering opportunities.

      A bright blue sky obstructed by fluffy white clouds reflected off of a stream shot from inside a kayak
      The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages an unparalleled network of public lands and waters called the National Wildlife Refuge System. With more than 560 refuges spanning the country, this system protects iconic species and provides some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities on Earth.
      Smoke from a prescribed fire enters the sky.
      The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages fire safely and cost-effectively to improve the condition of lands while reducing the risk of damaging wildfires to surrounding communities. This balanced approach to fire management benefits people and wildlife.
      Partners for Fish and Wildlife: Nevada Coordinator Susan Abele Meets with Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Member to Conduct a Site Visit at Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation
      The Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program provides free technical and financial assistance to landowners, managers, tribes, corporations, schools and nonprofits interested in improving wildlife habitat on their land. Since 1987, we have helped more than 30,000 landowners to complete more than 50,...

      Our Species

      Turnbull supports a large variety of wildlife. Over 200 different kinds of birds have been recorded on the refuge. Of prime importance, the refuge conserves habitat for 25 species of nesting and migrating waterfowl including ducks geese and swans. Neotropical migratory songbirds, shorebirds and other water birds are found in abundance in riparian riparian
      Definition of riparian habitat or riparian areas.

      Learn more about riparian
      areas and wetlands. Mammals include moose, Rocky Mountain elk, white-tailed and mule deer, coyote, badger, river otter, porcupine, muskrat, beaver, bobcat and cougar. Numerous small mammals ranging from shrews to Columbian ground squirrels abound in different refuge habitats as well as a dozen reptile and amphibian species. The Channeled Scablands is a great haven for the 11 species of bats that have been documented at the refuge.

      A green Spalding's catchly plant surrounded by tall brown grass

      Spalding's catchfly (Silene spaldingii) is an herbaceous perennial in the pink family (Caryophyllacea). The species is endemic to the Palouse region of south-east Washington and adjacent Oregon and Idaho, and is disjunct in northwestern Montana and British Columbia, Canada. This species is found...

      FWS Focus
      Trumpeter swan and young swimming in Pablo day use pond

      The trumpeter swan is a majestic bird, with snowy white feathers; jet-black bill, feet, and legs; and 8-foot wingspan. At close range, a thin orange-red line can be seen on the lower part of the bill. The trumpeter is often confused with the smaller, more northerly tundra swan, especially where...

      FWS Focus

      Our Library

      Be sure to check out all of the past stories and news from the refuge!

      Crops of wheat growing on the top of a flood-carved mesa are a green contrast to the surrounding drier landscape.
      Geologists couldn't account for the strange landforms of eastern Washington State. Then a high school teacher dared to question the scientific dogma of his day.

      Get Involved

      Whether you want to further conservation, learn more about nature or share your love of the outdoors, you’ve come to the right place. National wildlife refuges provide many opportunities for you to help your community by doing what you love. National wildlife refuges partner with volunteers, youth groups, landowners, neighbors and residents of urban communities to make a lasting difference. Find out how you can help make American lands healthier and communities stronger while doing something personally satisfying.

      Projects and Research

      Turnbull’s focus includes restoring and maintaining the native ecosystem processes of the Channeled Scablands. Habitat on the refuge is managed to sustain the diversity of flora and fauna native to this unique ecosystem. To achieve habitat diversity, the refuge reintroduces fire to fire-dependent plant communities, restores wetlands, deploys invasive species invasive species
      An invasive species is any plant or animal that has spread or been introduced into a new area where they are, or could, cause harm to the environment, economy, or human, animal, or plant health. Their unwelcome presence can destroy ecosystems and cost millions of dollars.

      Learn more about invasive species
      control, and plants native vegetation. Research is conducted on various habitats and wildlife to direct future management. Elk is also carefully managed through a limited-entry annual hunt to ensure a healthy regeneration of riparian riparian
      Definition of riparian habitat or riparian areas.

      Learn more about riparian