2021 Refuge Calendar is Out

View the 2020 Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge Photo Contest Winners in the stunning 2021 calendar. Funds support habitat restoration, environmental and cultural education, and other Refuge programs and events. Just $18, the 2021 calendars come in an 8.5×11” size, as well as the extra large wall calendar size. The calendar lists important Refuge dates, and much more worthwhile information, providing the perfect gift for wildlife lovers as well as the person giving the gift, because they can know their support makes a difference, every day. You can also find mugs, tote bags, and clothing in our merchandise shop!

Join the Friends of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge or renew today to support the Friends’ conservation, habitat restoration, and educational programs. Follow the Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge on Facebook:  www.Facebook.com/RidgefieldFriends, www.FWS.gov/RidgefieldRefuges/Ridgefield, www.RidgefieldFriends.org

Friends of Refuge Reach Goal

Friends of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge reached their goal of $5,000 yesterday in the GiveMore24! event.

Thank you!

They not only reached their goal in record time, but beat last year’s achievement by $182.00. This is all thanks to members and volunteers, the generous match offered by the Hugh & Mair Lewis Charitable Fund, and every single one of you!

You don’t have to stop spreading the message and supporting the cause, because #GiveMore24! isn’t over yet. In case you want to get in on the action, it’s not too late: donate now.

Update on Refuge Trails

Kiwa Trail closure August 12th & 13th for a prescribed burn to improve habitat. This closure MAY be extended to the entire Auto Tour. Stay tuned to our website here for updates.

For more information about prescribed burns at Ridgefield NWR check out Refuge 20/20.

The Kiwa trail reopened Saturday August 8th. Besides the 12th & 13th, visitors are asked to use the trail as a one-way counter clockwise loop to minimize the need to pass visitors in narrow areas and allow everyone to recreate safely and comfortably. Be aware that parking is limited on this popular trail so you may need to do a loop around the auto tour to wait for a spot to park. Parking is not allowed along the shoulders of the auto tour.

The Auto Tour Route on the River S Unit is open to vehicle traffic ONLY. No bikes or pedestrian access at this time.

There will be no public access to bathrooms, informational kiosks, and the viewing blind due to the inability to provide the public with regularly disinfected surfaces according to CDC guidelines and/or proper social distancing opportunities in these spaces.

The Refuge is fee free at this time.

Current open  gates times for the Auto Tour Route on the River ‘S’ Unit are: 6 AM – 8:30 PM.

For Walking Trails during this closure, the Carty Unit is open.

Note that gates close automatically. Vehicles must exit the Refuge before the gate closes and there is no entry before or after hours. Please expect increased traffic and long waiting times to navigate around the tour and plan accordingly.

Volunteer at the Refuge as a Greeter

Over 120,000 visitors flock to the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge annually to enjoy nature through participation in wildlife observation, photography, environmental education, cultural interpretation, hunting, and fishing. Volunteers help to make their experiences meaningful.

Share your enthusiasm for nature and make the Refuge a welcoming place for people walking our trails, stopping at the Visitor Contact Station and driving the Auto Tour by becoming a volunteer naturalist.

Volunteers naturalists are needed to walk trails and teach people about what they can see and enjoy at the Refuge this summer!

If you are interested email RidgefieldVolunteer@fws.gov to be put on the update list.

Refuge Calendar now Available

The Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge Photo Contest Calendar is back for the 2020 calendar season! Check out the winners from the 2019 contest, and stay up-to-date on important events, volunteer opportunities, and more. Support volunteer programs like habitat restoration and educational programming, and host beautiful photos of wildlife and your refuge in your home the whole year through.

The calendars cost just $18 and can be purchased at Seasons Coffee Tea and Remedies in the Old Liberty Theater.


Come celebrate the 20th Birdfest with a kickoff party and fundraiser presented by the Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.

It’s at the Ilani Cowlitz Ballroom,   1 Cowlitz Way, Ridgefield, WA 98642, October 4th, 2019, 5 pm to 7:30 pm.

Entertainment by Tony Starlight, Entertainer and Bird Watcher extraordinaire…Scrumptious food and two drink tickets with each entry…Silent Auction of unique items…Live Auction of a few very special items

Tickets are $75.00 and should be purchased ahead of time on the RidgefieldFriends.org website.  Tickets are limited so get yours early; you don’t want to miss this event. All funds raised will support our habitat restoration and education programs on the Refuge.

BirdFest was initiated in 2000 by the newly incorporated non-profit Friends of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. Birdfest2000 included guided van tours of the River S unit and a dedication ceremony for the new trial.  Art exhibits were displayed at Season’s in town and Rose’s Antiques.  There were guided canoe trips on Lake River and several bird hikes led by Vancouver Audubon.  The Community Center was the site for a Community Garage Sale. There were lectures on birds and a special children’s program on Dr. Seuss’s “The Lorax”.  It was such a success the Friends board started planning the annual event as soon as they were done with Birdfest2000.  Sunset with the Sandhill Cranes was started at the 2001 Birdfest. Van tours into the wetlands roosting area has expanded and been a very popular part of BirdFest since.

Over the years the Friends Board has moved from a garage sale to a Birder’s Marketplace with local artists and wildlife-oriented vendors.  This year, the Birder’s Marketplace moves to the new Ridgefield Administrative and Civic Center building downtown. Bluegrass music in town has become a special feature of BirdFest over the years.

We have added many new activities such as a wildlife photography workshop and salmon bake.  Many favorites are still around such as the Sandhill Crane tours, scope station on River S, a geology walk, watercolor workshop and Portland Audubon’s live bird show.  Some events require preregistration and/or have a fee.  But there is much more so check out the Friends website, Ridgefieldfriends.org, for details on the BirdFest activities and presentations for Saturday, October 5.  Sandhill Crane tours and a night hike are also scheduled for Friday, October 4th.

Second Sunday at Refuge

Auto Tour at Refuge Closed

The Auto Tour route at the Refuge is closed during the week for a bridge update. It’s open on weekends.

Bird Count

Every year between December 14th and January 5th, tens of thousands of volunteers throughout the Americas brave snow, wind, or rain to take part in the Christmas Bird Count (CBC). Audubon and other organizations use data collected in this long-running wildlife census to assess the health of bird populations, and to help guide conservation action. Ridgefield NWR has been a part of the “Sauvie Circle” since the 1960s. Our 15-mile diameter circle encompasses the Columbia River covering Sauvie Island and some of the Scappoose area on the Oregon side and west of I-5 from Vancouver Lake bottoms through the refuge and up to the Lewis River on the Washington side.

This year our count will be on December 23rd with a back up date on December 31st. Teams are assigned an area to survey, results are submitted to the compiler who puts it all together and submits the information to the National Audubon Society. Being part of the count can be as simple as counting at your own feeder if you are within the boundaries of the circle, surveying a park you like to visit for a couple of hours or spending all day in the field walking your territory. If you are new to the CBC, we can pair you with more experienced birders. There will be several teams on the refuge and adjacent areas who will be out that day. You will need binoculars, a good field guide or app, and likely good winter weather clothing and footwear. If being part of this big citizen science effort has appeal for you, check out the National Audubon website at https://www.audubon.org/conservation/science/christmas-bird-count. If you would like to participate this year, contact Susan Setterberg at smsetterberg@yahoo.com, preferable before December 7th, for more information.

RNWR Seeks Board Members

Friends of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge (“Friends”) is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the Refuge. Our mission is: promoting educational programs of the Ridgefield NWR, enhancing awareness and appreciation of the Refuge, and protecting and enhancing its wildlife habitat.

The Board of Directors is an action-oriented group which is passionate about its mission. The board retains responsibility for all aspects of the organization’s activity and delegates management responsibilities to staff. The Board retains all responsibility for finances and financial accountability, leadership development, and governance. Board members serve three (3) year terms and contribute 10-15 hours per month to the program. The board meets monthly for 60-90 minutes and board members are expected to actively participate in projects or on committees with responsibility for resource development/fundraising, community outreach, leadership/human resources and strategic planning.


Interested candidates should have:
1.   A demonstrated interest and passion in the organization’s mission and goals;
2.   Specific experience or knowledge in at least one area: human resources, fundraising, strategic planning, finance, community outreach, nature/wildlife, the legal field;
3.   Volunteer or employment experience that demonstrates: professionalism, leadership ability, community service, collaborative skills, and effective communication abilities.
4.   A willingness to participate in board fundraising activities;
5.   A willingness to expand knowledge or board responsibilities through orientation and ongoing training;
6.   A willingness to represent the organization to the community;
7.   And an ability to meet the time commitment requirements to be an effective board member.

HOW TO APPLY: (Applications Due November 23rd, 2018)

Interested candidates should submit a letter of interest (and resume if desired) including the following information:
1.   Qualifications for the position including occupational/employment background and community service work;
2.   Interest in the Friends of the RNWR organization, the Refuge, and the position;
3.   And a description of the skills and/or strengths the applicant would contribute to the organization.

Mail or Email resumes and letters of interest to Friends of the RNWR at: P.O. Box 1022, Ridgefield, WA 98642 OR alix@ridgefieldfriends.org<mailto:alix@ridgefieldfriends.org> by November 23rd, 2018

Thought for the Week

Yesterday I attended the Veteran’s Day program put on by our American Legion Post 44, and was impressed with the message the speakers chose. which was to cherish our veterans, include them in our activities, reach out to them and hire them.

The Columbia River Chorus sang three patriotic songs. Colonel Larry Smith (Ret) was the keynote speaker, and Mayor Don Stose and Commander John Rose also gave short speeches.

BirdFest and Bluegrass this Week-end

BirdFest starts tonight at the Sportsman Steakhouse and Saloon with BridFest-themed cocktails and a taco bar.

Saturday the Misty Mamas will host two workshops at the School District’s maintenance building at 11 and 12, followed by a family-friendly concert at 2:00 at the Old Liberty Theater.

There are several locations for tours, hikes, demonstrations, etc. Pick up a schedule at any store downtown and join the fun!


Friends of Refuge Fundraiser

Refuge Needs Volunteers

Calling all Volunteers! Types of Volunteer Opportunities:

Habitat Restoration

Volunteers get to see the most beautiful places on the refuge while helping to ensure that native wildlife have food and shelter. Summer work is focused on maintaining winter plantings and controlling invasive plants that threaten to take over habitat.  Crews meet on most Wednesday and Saturday mornings.

Contact Sean Davis at Sean_Davis@fws.gov or 360-887-3883 x 14

Refuge and Trail Greeters

Over 120,000 visitors flock to the refuge annually to enjoy nature through participation in wildlife observation, photography, environmental education, cultural interpretation, hunting, and fishing. Volunteers help to make their experiences meaningful. Share your enthusiasm for nature and make the Refuge a welcoming place for people walking our trails, stopping at the Visitor Contact Station and driving the AutoTour.

Contact Josie Finley at josie_finley@fws.gov or 360-887-4106 x 130

Cathlapotle Plankhouse

The Cathlapotle Plankhouse draws thousands of visitors to the Refuge each year. Help share the legacy of the Indigenous people who have tended to this place since time immemorial as a Plankhouse Docent or Cultural Educator. Field trips take place during the weekdays. Docents staff the house on weekends from April – September.

Contact Juliet McGraw at juliet_mcgraw@fws.gov 360-887-4106 x 123


Help us inspire the next generation. Kids of all ages need hands-on learning and inspiration in the great outdoors as part of a well-rounded education. We need your help to make their visit to the Refuge fun and memorable. Field trips take place during the weekdays starting in April.

Contact Josie Finley at josie_finley@fws.gov or 360-887-4106 x 130

Now you can sign up to volunteer easily on our website! Check it out by clicking here!

Don’t forget to glance at the Refuge calendar, your one-stop shop for fun activities and volunteer opportunities!

We are Stewards – part 2

I contacted Byron Brink after a Letter to the Editor he wrote to the Columbian, and asked him to expand his comments on the Refuge. This is part 2 of his thoughts.

We are Stewards of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge – Part Two.

What We Can Do to Help

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Friends of the Ridgefield NWR find good fortune in the current position of the refuge. It is bordered by Sauvie Island, the Shillapoo Wildlife Area, DNR lands, county lands, Plas Newydd Farm (that is transforming a large portion of their land into a mitigation bank called Wapato!), and the many fields we drive by in Clark and Cowlitz counties. Each of these areas acts as a travel corridor for the movement of wildlife and plants. And they act as crucial buffers to shelter the rich biodiverse landscape of the refuge.

All of us can take action to support the health of these buffer corridors. On a small scale, our own yards have the power to be corridors for wildlife:

  • Reduce the area of impervious surfaces on your property to slow water run-off and the spread of pollutants.
  • Allow that awkward ¼ acre of lawn to grow. You’ll create a pollinator’s paradise. Mow it 2-3 times a year to create a landing pad for geese and Sandhill Cranes during their migrating season.
  • Landscape with native plant species! Our native wildlife is adapted to utilizing the benefits of our native plants.

On a larger scale, we still have the ability to conserve the beautiful fields traversing our countryside. Property owners have the option to place a conservation easement on their land or protect their land in a trust. Additionally, as a community we must advocate for the preservation of land to our city leaders, and to our county leaders. We have to constantly make noise. Furthermore, we need to advocate to developers that it is critical to our community and our wildlife refuge to protect an ecologically substantial amount of open space, to minimize impervious surfaces through green roofs, pervious pavement, and smaller streets & driveways. And to develop Home Owners Association landscape areas with native plant species laid out in a way nature would have intended. Developerscollaborate with the professions of planning, civil engineering, architecture, and landscape architecture. Through this network, anything is possible.

There is a way each of us may directly work with the life of the refuge. The Friends of the Ridgefield NWR put in great effort (and have fun doing so) to enhance the habitat of, and advocate for the refuge. The Friends are a non-profit group whose mission is to “promote educational programs of the Ridgefield NWR, and protect and enhance its wildlife habitat.” Here’s what Samantha Zeiner, Administrative Assistant for the Friends, has to say of the work of their volunteers:

“Volunteering is huge, and supporting the Friends in their efforts is huge. We work so hard to make the Refuge what it is, and to support the Refuge staff as they work diligently to coordinate volunteers and to keep the Refuge maintained. Volunteers, members, and sponsors are what make it so that almost everything people enjoy about the refuge happens.”

The refuge staff and the Friends coordinate many volunteer events annually. There are few actions more satisfying than getting one’s hands dirty performing restoration work for a place you love. To get involved directly, or to give, go to www.ridgefieldfriends.org.

As of this moment, it is an uphill battle for us to protect the lands we love from non-native species invasion, pollution, habitat loss, and climate change. It is imperative however that we continue to fight and each of us take action. Or we will be sharing the sentiment Leopold had after the last bear of Escudillo Mountain was trapped and killed, “Escudillo still hangs on the horizon, but when you see it you no longer think of the bear. It’s only a mountain now.”

We can do this. Our collective actions will render a world in which we no longer need worry about the state of the refuge and the creatures within. A time in which we may simply enjoy in its wonderment. When we may stand to listen to the secrets the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge has to share.

Sources & Acknowledgements:

Aerts, Raf, and Olivier Honnay. “Forest Restoration, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning.” BMC Ecology 11 (2011): 29. PMC. Web. 22 Feb. 2018.

Anderson, Eric. “Questions about the Refuge.” 15 Feb. 2018. Deputy Project Leader, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge Complex, U.S. FWS.

Leopold, Aldo. A Sand county almanac and sketches here and there. OUP, 1968.

Zeiner, Samantha. “Questions about the Refuge.” 13 Feb. 2018. Administrative Assistant, Friends of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.

Article Editors: Kaylene Brink & Emma Crippen

All photos of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge contributed by Emma Crippen