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 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 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 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 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

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

We are Stewards of the RNWR

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. Here are his thoughts.


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

When the adventurer drops their foot on the bridge, the dance begins. Mycorrhizal fungi stretch through the soil, gathering items for breakfast with the plants. Well-fed Camas flowers burst from the soil cascading violet over basalt outcroppings. Black tailed bumblebees mingle as they mine gold from the Camas. A lone bee buzzes to and fro, sprinkling gold onto a Columbian White Tailed Deer munching on a Cottonwood lunch. It’s fluffy white tail moves side to side. The adventurer yelps with glee at the sight. The deer bounds away and a flock of geese thunder across their lake as they fly to a deeper part of the refuge – reprimanding the adventurer along the way.

Trumpets announce the arrival of the Keepers to the Gates of Heaven, the sandhill cranes. A gust from a crane’s wing brushes the bark of a white oak tree. The old tree may only watch the fun of the dance, but her leaves can flap, twist, and rustle with each gust of wind. The commotion calms as the adventurer crosses back over the bridge, but the drum beat of the wildlife refuge will continue to reverberate all the way home.

Aldo Leopold, an early theorist of wildlife ecology, wrote of the presence a bear had on a mountain named Escudillo:

“There was in fact only one place from which you did not see Escudillo on the skyline, that was on top of Escudillo itself. Up there you could not see the mountain, but you could feel it. The reason was the big bear.”

To Leopold, the bear residing on the mountain is an essential part of what it means to experience the mountain. In a similar way, the biodiversity of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is an essential part of the experience. The activity of the soil organisms, Camas, bumblebees, deer, cottonwoods, geese, cranes, and the oak trees entices one to feel the pulse of the refuge as they wander.


What is Biodiversity?

In addition to the intrinsic value, biodiversity is crucial to ecosystem and environmental health. Defined, biodiversity refers to the quantity of different living species within a given area. It is also measured by variance and amount of habitat opportunities (a large oak tree and a small oak tree are of the same species, but they provide two different habitats). Having high levels of biodiversity increases an ecosystem’s resilience to damaging disturbances such as fire, flooding, pollution, disease, and encroachment of non-native invasive species.

Biodiversity may also be a tool in addressing climate change through enhanced ecosystem functions such as carbon sequestration. The result of multiple species filling multiple niches allows for a higher yield of ecosystem services. This is proven by a study in the journal BMC Ecology that finds forests with diverse tree species support more productive ecosystem functions than less diverse, or mono-culture forests (Aerts).

Protecting and enhancing the biodiversity of the refuge is important to our planet’s health and the enjoyment one finds in its riches. Excitingly, there are ways in which each of us may be stewards of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. Next week I’ll share how we can help secure the sanctuary of the Refuge!

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


Government Shutdown

In answer to questions about how the government shutdown will affect our local refuges, here is the official statement:

“Due to the lapse in federal appropriations, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is unable to fully staff the properties under its management.  It is not feasible to close or otherwise prohibit all access to National Wildlife Refuge System properties.

Refuge visitors are advised to use extreme caution if choosing to enter units of the National Wildlife Refuge System, as FWS personnel will not be available to provide guidance, assistance, maintenance, or emergency response on Refuge System property.  Any entry onto Refuge System property during this period of federal government shutdown is at the visitor’s sole risk.”

This does not affect the Member and Volunteer dinner on January 21st, as it is being held at the Ridgefield Community Center.

Deadline Extended

The deadline to apply for the RNWR Board of Directors position has been extended to January 14. See complete job description on my post of December 28.

Friends of Refuge Seeking Applications

Friends of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge is seeking applications for its Board of Directors. It’s a volunteer, unpaid position. Please submit your application no later than January 5, 2018.

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, 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. An ability to meet the time commitment requirements to be an effective board member.


Interested candidates must 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. 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

RNWR Calendars on Sale

Time to start holiday shopping while supporting a great cause!

The Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge’s 2018 Calendar is here! This year’s calendar features the winning photos from our annual photo contest and will be on pre-sale through November 28th, 2017.

Our calendars are much more than amazing, high resolution action shots from Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, they also help the Friends support its’ mission of providing habitat restoration,  cultural and environmental education on the Refuge and to its’ visitors. All the photo’s subjects are identified, and there is also some info about each photo! Learn about the seasonal changes in habitat restoration, important dates to look forward to, read a passionate poem about our refuge, and much more. Just $16 pre-sale, these 12 month, 8.5×11 (opens to 11×17), saddle-stitched wall calendars are the perfect gift!

Whether as a holiday gift for loved ones, your friends or co-workers, or a functional keepsake for yourself, your purchase helps support our public lands, protecting wildlife and the history of our area, in perpetuity. With gorgeous photos of wildlife and a little learning, what more could you ask for?

Order yours today to get the pre-sale price and guarantee you get one! Pre-orders will be shipped the first week of December:

After pre-sale, you can still order your calendars online, or you can purchase them in town at City of Ridgefield‘s Hometown Celebration on December 2nd, or at Seasons Coffee Tea & Remedies while supplies last!

Refuge Photography Contest Closes Sept. 5

Last chance to enter the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge’s annual Refuge Photography Contest. Up to six nature images taken within the boundaries of the refuge are permitted. Prices will be awarded to adult and youth entries. Submit an entry online before September 5 here.

Fundraiser for the Friends of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

You’re invited!  Please join the Friends on Wednesday, July 19, 2017, from 6:00 – 8:30 pm, at Windy Hills Winery, 1346 S. 38th Court, Ridgefield, WA.

Amazing wine, beer, and hors d’oeuvres will be available and there will be both silent and live auctions.

Cost is $25.00 per guest. Invitations are on the way.  If you did not receive an invitation but would like to attend, please contact Victoria Haugen, Board Secretary, at 503-927-2254

Please send check payable to the Friends of the RNWR to:

Friends of the RNWR

P.O. Box 1022

Ridgefield, WA  98642

Or pay online using Paypal:

If you cannot attend, but would like to make a donation to help the Friends, please use this link:


Night Hike at Refuge

Join host, ethnobotonist and author Kat Anderson at the Cathlapotle Plankhouse for a special presentation, “Beauty, Bounty and Biodiversity,” and night hike on May 26 from 7-8:30 pm.

“Kat Anderson will share connections with California and Pacific Northwest tribes, by examining traditionally managed edible wildflower gardens of California. She will also explore the implications that these gardens have for fostering pollinator habitat, increasing biodiversity, and the ways in which these plants have evolved to meet the needs of people.”

Then at 8:30 pm explore the Oaks to Wetlands Trail on a naturalist guided hike, “The Refuge at Dusk”. RSVP required, email to save your spot today!


Schedule for Mother’s Day at the Refuge

Here’s a schedule of the events to take place this Sunday at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

Plant Walks & Wild Teas

May 14th 12-4pm

For Cathlapotle Chinookans tending to plant relatives has always been the responsibility of women in the community. Since time immemorial, women have tended to wapato, camas, and many other plants that people have relied on for food, medicine, and trade. This Mother’s Day, bring mom out to the Cathlapotle Plankhouse to connect to plants important to Chinookan Peoples, and to learn about edible and medicinal plants you can connect with in your own neighborhoods.

1pm:  Tending the Wild Walk
Join Friends staff for a walk on the Oaks to Wetland Trail to learn about how the women of Cathlapotle tended to their plant relatives like camas and wapato.

2pm: Family Nature Walk
Learn about the plants and animals that call the Refuge home.

3:00 pm: Soothing Herbal Salve demonstration
Learn a few common plants that can be used to make an herbal salve for soothing cuts, scrapes, and dry skin.

12pm –  4pm: Plankhouse Tours and Children’s Activities
Tour the Plankhouse on your own or guided by our experienced volunteers. Children’s activities will be available as well.

12pm – 4pm: Wild Tea Samples
Taste teas made with native and non-native plants such as blackberry leaf, dandelion root, doug fir, and more! (until supplies last)

Free with Refuge admission:

Celebrate Mother’s Day at the Plankhouse

This Sunday is Mother’s Day and you can bring mom out to the Cathlapotle Plankhouse and connect to plants important to Chinookan Peoples for this special event.

Learn about edible and medicinal plants, enjoy tasting wild teas, learn about medicinal salves, and go on a nature walk.

The Plankhouse serves as an education/interpretive center and is used by the Chinook Indian Nation for cultural events throughout the year. This event is perfect for the whole family.

Wildlife Calendar

Help support the Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge and their unique education and habitat restoration programs by purchasing this 2017 calendar, originally $15, now just $7.50!
These 16 month calendars run from January 2017 to April 2018, and feature all 16 of the 2016 Refuge Photo Contest Winners.

Each month’s photo is labeled with the winner’s name and their ranking in the contest, as well as identification of the subject of each photo. This calendar also includes key dates that are important to the Friends and the Refuge.

This 8.5×11 calendar opens to 11×17, with #80 cover paper and #100 paper inside. It is saddle-stitched, and includes a hole for wall hanging.

Please contact the Friends of the Refuge at with questions.

To purchase these beautiful calendars

Don’t want to pay shipping?

You can also find these calendars for sale at Season’s Coffee Tea & Remedies, located inside the Old Liberty Theater at 115 N Main Ave, Ridgefield, WA 98642! (Cash or check please!)