Established in 1969 as mitigation for habitat lost through flooding caused by the construction of the John Day Dam on the Columbia River, Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge is a mecca for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts.
The refuge is a varied mix of open water, sloughs, shallow marsh, seasonal wetlands, cropland, islands, and shrub-steppe upland habitats. It is divided into six units--two in Oregon, three in Washington, and one in the middle of the Columbia River. The scarcity of wetlands and other natural habitats in this area make Umatilla Refuge vital to migrating waterfowl, bald eagles, colonial nesting birds, and other migratory and resident wildlife. It is strategically located within the Pacific Flyway to provide Arctic nesting geese and ducks a wintering site and a resting stopover.

Ornithological Summary

From the refuge web site: ?Nesting area for Great Basin Canada geese and several species of ducks. 90,000 wintering Canada geese. 200,000 wintering ducks, practically all species of ducks found in the west except sea ducks. The largest number of ducks on the refuge at one time was 458,000 on November 13, 1983. Long-billed curlews and other marsh and water birds nest on the refuge.?

Conservation Issues

Wetlands without a drawdown capability are routinely treated with Rotenone to control rough fish such as carp. Large monotypic stands of cattails are controlled by a combination of prescribed burning and mechanical disturbance.

Riparian and shrub-steppe habitats that are degraded by exotic species are treated singularly or in combination with prescribed fire, mechanical disturbance, chemical and biocontrols prior to seeding and planting of native species.

Ownership

Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge

Habitat

Umatilla Refuge is intensively managed to provide habitat for migratory birds and resident wildlife. Management practices include restoration of wetlands, manipulation of seasonal wetlands to encourage native food supplies, farming, prescribed burning, planting native willows and cottonwoods in riparian areas, improving uplands through the removal of exotic weed species, and planting native grasses.
Approximately 14,000 acres of refuge lands are irrigated croplands which provide food and cover for wildlife. Local farmers grow corn, wheat, alfalfa, and other crops under a cooperative agreement whereby the refuge's share of the crop is left in the field for wildlife.

Land Use

Umatilla Refuge is intensively managed to provide habitat for migratory birds and resident wildlife. Management practices include restoration of wetlands, manipulation of seasonal wetlands to encourage native food supplies, farming, prescribed burning, planting native willows and cottonwoods in riparian areas, improving uplands through the removal of exotic weed species, and planting native grasses.
Approximately 14,000 acres of refuge lands are irrigated croplands which provide food and cover for wildlife. Local farmers grow corn, wheat, alfalfa, and other crops under a cooperative agreement whereby the refuge's share of the crop is left in the field for wildlife.