16th Annual BirdFest & Bluegrass Celebration

October 3rd and 4th, 2015



The 2015 schedule of events is being planned currently. To get an idea of what usually happens during BirdFest & Bluegrass, you can check out the 2014 schedule of event on this website. Keep your eyes peeled for the 2015 event schedule to be posted in August of 2015. 


Biographies of Past Speakers and Refuge Staff

Dennis Torresdal Dennis Torresdal currently serves as the President of the Oregon Archaeological Society, a local non profit association that works with professional archaeologists in advancement of knowledge and educating the public about local archaeology. He is also a renowned flintknapper. Flintknapping is the process by which traditional tools such as arrowheads and spear points were made.

Jim Maul Jim Maul is a professional geologist and hydrogeologist with over 30 years of experience providing technical and strategic consulting advice to private industrial and municipal clients. He is an expert in the area of environmental clean-up and property restoration in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Jim is a founding board member of the Friends of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge and Ridgefield resident. Jim has a lifelong relationship with the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge and Columbia River lowlands. Jim has developed a unique perspective on the geomorphology of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge and will give an overview of the role the late-Pleistocene ice-age floods had on the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge and its adjoining landscape. Jim is currently serving as the President of the Friends board of directors.

Sam Robinson Sam Robinson was born in South Bend, Washington, on the Willapa Bay (the home of many of my Ancestors). I’m currently serving my second term as Vice Chairman of the Chinook Tribe. I am also a member of our Chinook Canoe Family, which allows me to spend many hours on the waters traveling with our Ancestors. I also enjoy the drumming of our songs as we travel. My involvement with the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge became much stronger after the discovery of the location of Cathlapotle. I serve on the U of W Native American Advisory Board, and I have worked with Clark College in preparation for their celebration of Native American month. I’m also a member of the board for the Title Seven program (Indian Education) at the Evergreen School District.

Lynn Cornelius Lynn Cornelius is the Habitat Restoration Coordinator for the Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. Lynn works on the Refuge alongside Refuge staff and with many dedicated volunteers to improve habitat conditions through invasive plant control, native plantings, and other activities. Lynn has worked in habitat restoration on the Refuge for the past 5 years and as a natural areas land manager in southwest Washington and conservation field biologist in Washington and Oregon for more than 25 years. He is knowledgeable in native plants and plant ecology. He grew up in Clark County. B.A. in Biology, Western Washington University: 1973.

Jim Danzenbaker I have been a birder since I was 6 years old in New Jersey and have birded across the U.S. and many countries since then. However, I call Ridgefield NWR my home turf and visit every chance I get. I have led birding tours to many different South and Central American countries and, currently, I lead natural history trips to Panama. Also, I’m a Staff Naturalist on a Falklands-South Georgia-Antarctic eco-tourism cruise. My birding history has allowed me to experience the full range of optics from my first cheap binoculars to high end optics that allow crystal clear views without eye strain. Digiscoping has opened up a whole new area of interest and I am happy to share my knowledge of this marriage of a spotting scope and camera. I am currently the Sales Manager for the Americas at Kowa Sports Optics and I live in Battle Ground, WA.

Gail Alexander After raising my son and spending 30 privileged, wonderful yrs. as a provider in health care, I moved to my home on Lake River, Ridgefield Wa. in 2003. Inspired to connect people to the RNWR and water trails, I established Ridgefield Kayak in 2005.

Refuge Manager – Chris Lapp has worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in North Dakota, California, Minnesota, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, and now Washington the past 20 years as a biologist and manager. Starting out as a research biologist for the Service’s Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center working on breeding and wintering studies on waterfowl, Chris has gone onto implementing numerous studies and managing a variety of habitats on wildlife refuges to support waterfowl, waterbirds, shorebirds, and neotropical landbirds. He has implemented countless habitat restoration projects with budgets in excess of $1,000,000 and was part of the initial development and construction of visitor service facilities at Tualatin River NWR in Oregon. Chris currently serves as overall manager of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Mr. Lapp received his BS degree in Wildlife Management in 1988 from Evergreen State University in Washington.

Randy Hill Randy Hill has been the Deputy Refuge Manager for the Ridgefield NWR Complex since February 2010. After receiving a B.S. degree in Wildlife Management from Humboldt State University in 1977, he spent most of 30 years as a Wildlife Biologist with several federal agencies, including US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Reclamation before landing at Columbia NWR in 1990. With an interest in birds for more than 45 years, work opportunities in CA, AZ, NM, MN, and ND as well as WA broadened his view and understanding of birds. Randy served as “co-President” of Mesilla Valley Audubon, President of the Bismarck-Mandan Bird Club, and served five years on the board of the Washington Ornithological Society, including two years as President. He also helped coordinate the Othello Sandhill Crane Festival for 13 years.

Eric Anderson Between terms at Western Oregon State College, I held both seasonal fire fighter jobs and volunteer positions with Malheur NWR. Upon graduation I volunteered at Imperial NWR, leading recreation programs. These experiences parlayed into employment with the National Biological Survey, studying flycatchers in OR and CO. In 1994 I was thrilled to find seasonal employment near home at Ridgefield NWR, which has turned into a career. I’m fascinated with sandhill cranes, songbirds, dusky Canada geese, and amphibians. In my own small way, I’m proud to have contributed to the appreciation of and conservation of these species.

Josie Finley is the Park Ranger/Volunteer Coordinator for the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. She has been in her current position for three years but has worked at the Refuge for the last 6 years engaged in a variety of projects including habitat restoration, the hunt program, and other visitor services related duties. She also currently runs the Refuge’s environmental education programs for school age children. Josie has a BA in Environmental Studies from the Evergreen State College and is currently working toward a MA in Zoology through the University of Miami, Ohio.

Sarah Hill is the Plankhouse Coordinator for the Friends of RNWR. Born and raised in Ridgefield, the refuge holds a special place in Sarah’s heart. Though she is currently the Plankhouse Coordinator, she began her work here as the refuge Americorps member, coordinating habitat restoration events and leading nature hikes during school field trips. She is passionate about teaching and the cultural and natural history of the Refuge. In her spare time she donates her time volunteering with many local non-profits and agencies such as the Intertwine Alliance, Vancouver Watershed Stewards, The Portland Fruit Tree Project, and is a volunteer instructor and naturalist with Rewild Portland.

Lela Brown comes from a long line of plant explorers. She is a student at Prescott College researching ways to rebuild traditional ecological knowledge through wild plant foods and storytelling. She has been teaching the sophisticated skills required for an intact life in relationship with the lands for seven years, specializing in ethnobotany and animal tracking. She also spends her time working as a commercial plumber in Portland and ranging the remote wildlands of The West for months at time with her heard of pack goats.

Russ Roseberry was an educator for 36 years. 24 of those years in the science classroom, 9 years as a high school administrator and 3 years in human resources. He has served for 10 years on the Friends board. The Ridgefield Refuge was part of his science classroom resource when he was teaching Biology.

Rewild Portland (Peter Bauer) is an environmental education focused non-profit organization serving Portland, Oregon and the surrounding wild and rural communities. Our purpose is to create cultural and environmental resilience through the education of earth-based arts, traditions and technologies. We look to the animistic, regenerative relationships that indigenous cultures have with the land as our model for sustainability. Our mission comes to life in the form of educational workshops and programs, community-building events, art shows, ecological restoration, and the production of art work and media.

English Ivy is an invasive species that has damaged many native ecosystems throughout the Northwest. Rewild Portland removes this nuisance of a vine from the land and uses it to weave artful, utilitarian baskets. Join us in restoring the habitat of the refuge and create your own basket with instructor Peter Bauer and the Rewild Portland crew.

Ron Escano was a Forest Service wildlife biologist for 30 years and has been a life long birder. After retiring in 2001, he has been leading bird walks for Portland Audubon Society and US Fish and Wildlife Service. On an average, he leads 50 bird walks a year in the Portland and Vancouver area.

Dr. Cameron M. Smith was educated in Africa, England, the USA and Canada, Dr. Cameron M. Smith
teaches archaeology and human evolution at Portland State University and Linfield College. He has been with the Wapato Valley Archaeology project since 1991 and he is currently completing analysis of thousands of artifacts excavated on the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge since that time. He has published in peer-reviewed research journals, written features for magazines including ‘Scientific American MIND’ and ‘Archaeology’, as well as several books on evolution. His award-winning travel writing has appeared in both magazines and anthologies. At Portland State he teaches a wide variety of classes, from Northwest Coast Prehistory to Neanderthal Europe.

We look forward to seeing you at Birdfest this year!