By Pam Faris
Friends of the Refuge
Pamplin Media Group“Being able to smell the fresh air and disconnect from the news and your phone—there’s nothing like it.” — Jason Ward
Close to home, yet far enough away from the urban area, the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge is the place to disconnect. Large numbers of waterfowl such as cackling Canada geese, northern pintail and mallards stop mid-winter and they eat the rich source of seeds and plants gown in summer. The refuge sees an average of 20,000 waterfowl during mid-winter and in some years more than 50,000 have been observed in a single day. It’s an impressive sight to see and hear so many ducks and geese.
The refuge is home to nearly 200 species of birds, more than 50 species of mammals, 25 species of reptiles and amphibians and a wide variety of insects, fish and plants. It is situated in the floodplain of the Tualatin River and due to its richness and diversity of habitats, the refuge supports some of the most abundant and varied wildlife in the watershed.
Wapato Lake National Wildlife Refuge, located in Gaston and part of the Tualatin River National Wildlife complex, will again open its trails for public use Feb. 1. This refuge also offers a place to see waterfowl and birds. Visitors can check out our website for more information at www.fws.gov/refuge/wapato-lake.
Join the Puddle Stompers at Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge and learn about the wildlife around us. Join us for story time, nature crafts and take a short walk on our trail. Our Puddle Stompers programs are designed for kids ages infant to 5. Raincoats and boots are available for kids to borrow. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 503-625-5944 with any questions. This is a free event. Puddle Stompers programs will be held in February, but dates are not yet confirmed. For dates and information, go to www.fws.gov/refuge/tualatin-river
The parking lot expansion project will add about 50 new spaces. Construction is expected to improve pedestrian walkways and connect dedicated pathways from the parking lot to the visitor center. It will also increase the number of accessible parking spots close to the visitor center and include a new school bus loading zone. Construction should not impact access to the refuge, although portions of the parking lot may close periodically.
If you are walking the trails at the refuge, do not approach or touch birds who may appear to be sick or are exhibiting abnormal behavior. There have been confirmed cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) among birds at Tualatin River NWR. The refuge staff are continuing to monitor the situation. While the risk of humans contracting avian influenza is low, it is not zero, so do not handle sick or dead birds. To learn more about avian influenza, visit the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife website. We have put this notice on our website and will post to social media and have flyers at the trailheads and at the visitor center.
Have you stopped in the visitor center to browse the merchandise in Nature’s Overlook, to take a break after your walk or just see the view from the large windows? Have you thought it might be fun to volunteer in the center? Volunteers are needed to staff the center. It is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
The store is often the first contact visitors have with the refuge. It’s an enjoyable opportunity to meet and greet people and make new friends. It’s also a place to learn about the refuge. No specific experience is necessary and training will be provided. You must be a member of the Friends of the Refuge and commit to working two three-hour shifts per month. Volunteers receive relevant training and 10% off purchases, behind-the-scenes tours and workshops. If you are interested email Natalie Balkam, FWS park ranger, at tualatinriver.@fws.gov, call 503-625-5944 or stop by the visitor center.