September 2015

It's Almost Here! 

Celebrate the Fortieth Anniversary of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge at BirdFest & Bluegrass

October 3rd and 4th


Birds up close and personal, guided walks, kayak and canoe trips, Sandhill crane tours, seminars, free movies, Birder’s Marketplace, and award-winning Bluegrass bands are just some of the treats awaiting you at this year’s BirdFest & Bluegrass weekend. Hone your wildlife photography skills or learn basic watercolor techniques. Explore the geology and cultural history of the Refuge. Enjoy a traditional salmon bake with drumming by members of the Chinook Indian Nation and Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde. Learn about the planned reintroduction of magnificent condors along the Columbia River. Find out what birds are talking about when they sing, chatter and squawk. Let your children explore engaging, hands-on activities or listen to skilled storytellers relate tales from the wild.


The official BirdFest schedule is available online at and shows you everything you'll need to know to plan your fabulous weekend at the 2015 BirdFest & Bluegrass celebration. See you there!


Your Help Makes BirdFest a Success!

BirdFest is right around the corner, and that means we need a big flock of helpers. Increase your fun and make new friends by volunteering during part of the weekend. Here’s where we need extra hands:


  • Helping on Friday to set up the display of winning photographs from this year’s Photo Contest;
  • Greeting and orienting event guests at information tables and booths and selling Friends merchandise in Davis Park on Saturday and Sunday;
  • Helping direct visitor parking;
  • Collecting donations for the Friends during the bird show, canoe paddles, and other events;
  • Helping with event setup Saturday Morning and take-down Sunday evening;
  • Helping with the family activities in Davis Park or around the Plankhouse.


Interested in Volunteering? Contact Barb through email at: or by phone at (360) 991-5965 for more information.





Support the Friends and the Refuge on

September 24th, a Day of Giving


The Friends are delighted to participate in this year’s Give More 24! campaign through the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington. This is a special day set aside to help selected nonprofits generate the dollars needed to support programs; in our case, to increase opportunities for the public to enjoy and learn about the Refuge and keep habitats healthy for the wildlife we all want to protect.


For 24 hours, starting at 12 a.m. on September 24, you can go to and use your credit card to make a donation. Mark your calendar to log on to donate to the Friends at Because the Community Foundation supercharges the day with extra prize donations in various categories, your gift can have even greater impact. You don’t have to have a fund at the Community Foundation, and you can even reside outside of southwest Washington and still donate. Give More 24! donations are 100% tax deductible. The minimum donation amount for Give More 24! is $10, but there is no limit to how much you can give.


Just today we received word that a donor has offered a challenge grant to match up to $1,000 in donations. This will double your donation up to that amount, giving us a big head start towards our fundraising goals!


Your donations to the Friends are more important than ever this year. Because visitation to the Refuge has continued to grow at a rapid pace, the Friends need to hire additional staff to coordinate and train our thousands of habitat and Plankhouse volunteers, support the increasing needs at our public schools for educational field trips to the Refuge, and expand other educational programs for the community.


And please also tell all your friends about the Friends and help us make the Refuge the best place it can be for all of us and our wild friends too!


For more information on how Give More 24! works, visit this link:


Ridgefield Refuge Complex

News & Events


New Carty Unit Pedestrian Bridge Open! 

Official Dedication Ceremony at BirdFest

Saturday, October 3rd at 10 am


Its official! The new Carty Unit Pedestrian Bridge is fully operational, making the Carty Unit truly open for all of our visitors. With its wide, gently sloping pathways, people with strollers, walkers and wheelchairs can easily access the Cathlapotle Plankhouse and Oaks to Wetlands Trail. Art installations and interpretive panels will be added over the next weeks and months to connect visitors to the history, culture, and wildlife of the Refuge.


The official bridge dedication will take place October 3rd at 10 am as the kickoff event for BirdFest. Note that the bridge and the Carty Unit will be closed in the morning in preparation for the ceremony.


Ridgefield NWR Hunt Program Modification Announced


Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge offers a richness of public use experiences, both for non-consumptive and consumptive users.  One of those consumptive uses is our waterfowl hunt program. The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act passed by Congress in 1997 identified hunting as a wildlife-dependent, priority public use for the National Wildlife Refuge System. At the Refuge, the waterfowl hunting program is managed and operated in a manner that is consistent and compatible with the Refuge’s purposes and goals and provides a quality experience for the hunter. The program is designed to maintain hunt quality by regulating hunter density, while affording equal opportunity to all participants. 


The Refuge operates box blinds and pit blinds within its hunting area.  The hunt days currently run on a three-days-per-week schedule during the regular state waterfowl hunt season (Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday). Since the establishment of the hunt program, measures have been to improve hunt quality, safety, and equality. Recently, Refuge staff and the Western Waterfowl Association have had ongoing discussions on how to improve access to certain areas of the hunting area. Currently, access to the hunting blinds is on a network of seasonally mowed trails. This trail network attempts to utilize secondary maintenance roads and internal dikes to reduce annual trail maintenance efforts. Of focus was improvement of access to Blinds 10, 11 and 13A. These blinds are currently accessed from Parking Lot B, and users have expressed concern over the distance to get to these blinds, especially during wetter periods in the season in which sections of the trail from Parking Lot B are inundated and the hardship placed on hunters who are older with limited mobility.


Refuge management assessed the situation and there exists an opportunity to establish a hunter parking area at the current trail head parking lot of the Kiwa Trail. This would allow better access to hunt blinds #10, 11, and 13A (see map). The walking distance would be shorter than the current access point of Parking Lot B. Management is aware of concerns regarding disturbance impacts on wetlands adjacent to the Kiwa Trail parking lot in the non-hunting area and possibly reduction of wildlife viewing opportunities. It was agreed that a “test pilot” to use this parking area would be implemented this hunting season with conditions that hunters must comply with to insure minimal impacts to other users of the auto tour. In the case of failure to comply with stated conditions or if a noticeable change in wildlife viewing quality occurs, we would terminate use of the parking lot.  The conditions are as follows:

  • Hunters only with reservations for blinds 10, 11 and 13A may use the parking lot.
  • All dogs must remain on leash in parking lot and trails until the party is at their designated blind.
  • No littering or cleaning of birds is allowed in parking lot.
  • Hunters must exit out of the parking lot and follow the auto tour one-way flow to return to hunter check station and follow posted speed limits.


Ridgefield NWR recognizes that the waterfowl hunt program contributes to the continuation of America's traditions and heritage in wildlife conservation and outdoor recreation but must, among other considerations, maintain a careful balance between public use and wildlife conservation.  


Waterfowl Hunting Applications are Now Online


The 2015-2016 Hunt Season is just around the corner, with opening day on Saturday, October 17, 2015. US Fish & Wildlife is very excited to offer a new, simpler electronic reservation system this year with one online application to be submitted on October 1, 2015 for the entire 2015-2016 Hunt Season. Hunters can pick up to 30 dates at once during this single application period. This new system will increase efficiency and accuracy of application processing. Additionally, it will be time-saving to both our hunters and staff, all while the cost remains the same to you! Click on this link for more information:


Columbia Gorge Refuge Stewards Hiring a

Volunteer Coordinator


The Columbia Gorge Refuge Stewards are a Friends group supporting our sister complex comprised of Steigerwald Lake, Franz Lake and Pierce National Wildlife Refuges.


Know someone who loves the Refuges as much as they do and is interested in helping the Refuge Stewards grow their volunteer base? Tell them to head to this link to read the description for the Volunteer Coordinator position:


Candidates may e-mail a resume and cover letter to .


Lend a Helping Hand to Endangered Species


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has teamed up with FishBrain ­— the world’s largest free-to-use app and social network for anglers — to launch a new feature of the app that will help the American public identify and document threatened, endangered and candidate species.


The app enables FishBrain users to log sightings of up to 50 at-risk species during regular fishing trips, which will help conservationists and academics determine where the animals are, the habitat they need, the reasons for their decline, and how the public can help protect and conserve native wildlife.


To download the FishBrain app, visit:

The App Store: 

Google Play:


Thank you for visiting the refuge and supporting conservation. If you have any questions regarding activities and regulations on the refuge, call the office Monday through Friday 7:30am to 3:30 pm at 360-887-4106.



Cathlapotle Plankhouse 

Update & Events 


Second Sunday Series

Celebrate Cedar

with Artist and Weaver Judy Bridges

Sunday, September 13th, 12 pm - 4 pm


Join us for a day of demonstrations and hands-on activities celebrating an icon of the Pacific Northwest, the Western Red Cedar.


Because it can provide homes, clothing, canoes, medicine, and more, the Western Red Cedar tree is highly honored by many Native Peoples in the Northwest for its role in their lifeways and cultures. Many cedar traditions are still vibrant in Native communities today. Cowlitz weaver Judy Bridges will be in the Plankhouse demonstrating cedar weaving and bark processing techniques. There will also be opportunities to try your hand at splitting a cedar log and pounding cedar bark for fiber.


At 2:00 pm, a Refuge Naturalist will lead a hike around the Oaks to Wetlands Trail, exploring the connection between people, wildlife and cedar.



Habitat Restoration 

Updates & Events


New Habitat Volunteer Season

Begins October 28th



Look for our new 2015-2016 volunteer planting schedule in September. Our first planting day will be October 28th. This year, we will plant 5,300 trees and shrubs on nine acres to complete the Refuge's Columbian white-tailed deer recovery grant. Over the course of the two-year program, we will have planted 50 acres of habitat with 30,000 native trees and shrubs; and 15,000 were put in the ground through the volunteer program! We have had dedicated volunteers watering trees all summer from last season's plantings to help them survive this near-record dry summer.


Come out and help us plant trees this upcoming season and please share the information with others who would be interested in making a visible difference on the Refuge. We will need many hands! All our stock this season will be bare root to speed establishment in case we get yet another dry summer next year. Lynn Cornelius


Wrapping Up the Ricefield Bulrush Project

More than 30,300 Plants Pulled!


Our volunteer habitat improvement workdays were a huge success this summer. Ricefield Bulrush continued to be the focus and it turned out to be more prevalent than expected during this dry year. As of the end of August, volunteers pulled over 30,300 plants. There was a wide variety of volunteers, including a church youth group from Kent, Washington (who pulled over 5,000 plants in 3 hours!), several Boy Scouts working on their camping merit badges, a family from North Seattle, several Northwest Youth Corps crews, members of the Master Hunt Program, students getting stewardship credit for school, and many other committed volunteers. It was my pleasure to work with all of these great volunteers and it gives me confidence in the future of the Refuge to have such a dedicated volunteer base. Thanks to all who helped this summer and I look forward to the tree plantings this winter.

Jared Strawderman


Volunteering out on the Refuge is a great way to get outdoors with like-minded people. It’s also an excellent team-building activity for youth groups, work colleagues, clubs, and other organizations.


Follow the Friends on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!


Want regular updates on Refuge events and happenings? Follow the Friends on your favorite social media by clicking the logos below to stay connected even when you are off the Refuge.




Help the Friends and the Refuge When You Shop Online 

 When you link your Fred Meyer Rewards Card to the Friends, you help us earn donations from Fred Meyer Community Rewards. It doesn't change your regular personal shopping and fuel rewards, but it does make a meaningful contribution to our work on the Refuge.
It's easy to sign up. Just go to You can search for us by our name, Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, or by our non-profit number, 89824Then, every time you shop and use your Rewards Card, you are helping the Friends earn a donation to support the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. If you do not have a Rewards Card, they are available at the Customer Service desk of any Fred Meyer store.


You Can Also Shop and Give Online at
Log on to, shop as you usually would and .5% of your purchase will be donated directly to the Friends. Use the special link,, with your existing user name and password.


To set up your AmazonSmile account, click this link: prompted to select a charity, choose the Friends of Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge.  Begin shopping as you normally would and the Friends will receive 0.5% of eligible purchases.


Thanks for being an EcoShopper and helping the Refuge!


In This Issue...

Events and Volunteer Opportunities

Species Spotlight: American White Pelican

Join the Friends Today

Give More 24! September 24th

Refuge News & Events

Celebrate Cedar!

New Habitat Volunteer Season Starts in October



Events and Volunteer Opportunities 


Ridgefield First Saturday

"Wild, Wild West"

September 5th, 9 am


Art, music, food and activities for the whole family! Spend the whole day enjoying historic downtown Ridgefield, the merchants, Farmers Market and more. Visit the wild, wild west in old town Ridgefield — complete with saloon and jail. Chuck wagon cooking, square dancing, line dancing, campfire songs, wild west shows and country music.


Ridgefield Main Street Presents Oktoberfest

Saturday, September 12th

12 Noon - 10 pm

Refuge Overlook Park


Carnival games, wiener dog races, German-style food, live music, and a free movie in the park make for fun for all ages. Admission is free.


Gain National Attention for Your Refuge Photos


Just in time for one of the most photogenic seasons at Ridgefield NWR, the National Wildlife Refuge Association has announced their fall 2015 Refuge Photo Contest. The contest will run from September 15th to November 15th and is open to photographers of all ages and experience levels.


Audubon Society of Portland

Kiwa Trail Guided Hike

Wednesday, September 30

8 am - 12 pm


Expert birder Ron Escano will lead this walk to look for rails and bitterns. Registration is required and the walk is limited to 15 participants. Contact Ron Escano at 503-771-3454.


Species Spotlight 

American White Pelican

Pelecanus erythrorhynchos

Our BirdFest Bird of the Year is the majestic American White Pelican, one of the largest birds in North America and one of the heaviest flying birds in the world. As of this writing, at least three flocks have flown into the Refuge.


Generally, white pelicans gather on lakes inland during the summer and move out to the coastlines in the winter. Despite their size, they are efficient flyers and can soar very long distances. Mature birds are white with black flight feathers that only show when their wings are spread, while immature pelicans are white with dusky backs, heads and necks. Their legs and bills are yellow-orange. Adults grow a distinctive horn near the upper tip of their bill during breeding season.


White pelicans have some interesting eating habits. In addition to scooping up fish with their bill pouches while soaring, they sometimes float and dabble bottoms-up like a giant duck. They may also work together as a flock to force fish into shallow waters for a pelican feast.


Pelicans can overheat due to their body size, so you may see them turn their back to the sun and flutter their bill pouches on a warm day. The pouch is rich in blood vessels that transfer body heat and keep the pelican more comfortable. Another strategy for cooling in nesting season is to stretch out their wings like a cormorant.


Did you know: From birth to independence, an American White Pelican chick will demand about 150 pounds of food from its parents. Amazingly, embryos can squawk inside the egg to let their parents know if they are too hot or cold. The oldest known American White Pelican at least 23 years old.


Photo by Robert Burton courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service



The Benefits of Membership 


In addition to receiving the monthly E-News with Refuge updates, upcoming events and wildlife news, members enjoy member- and volunteer-only events. Also, with any $50 membership, you will receive an annual Refuge Pass, which covers entrance fees.


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


Discounts at Local Businesses for New and Renewing Members:


Would you like to enjoy a cup of coffee from Ridgefield's Seasons after a morning hike on the Refuge? Or perhaps breakfast before you head out on the auto tour route at Pioneer Street Cafe? Lunch at Vinnie's Pizza in-between the River 'S' and Carty Units? Dinner and drinks at the Historic Sportsman's Restaurant and Lounge after a busy day of wildlife viewing? Or maybe you would like to get a discount on some supplies at Shorty's or Backyard Bird Shop?  


Become a Friend or renew your membership today, and receive a member card with great discounts at these wonderful local businesses! Feel free to contact us for any questions or inquiries. 






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Our Sponsors


Clark Public Utilities
The Columbian
Corwin Beverages
Environmental Paper & Print
Fred Meyer Community 
National Environmental
  Education Foundation
National Fish & Wildlife
Pacific NW Best Fish Co.
Parr Lumber
Pelican Brewing Co.
Portland Audubon
Tidewater Transportation
Umpqua Bank

Partner with the Friends as a Business Member  

Take advantage of our Business Membership program to connect more deeply with the community and help ensure the future of the Refuge. Your support helps in so many ways.


Ridgefield NWR returns $6.02 in economic benefits to our community for every Federal dollar spent here.


For more information or to schedule a presentation on the Refuge and our programs at your business group, please e-mail us at


Business Friends:

David Morgan of Plas Newydd

Fred Sanchez of Redfin

Frank Shuman of Thrivent Financial

Barb Blystone of The Mercantile


Business Allies:

Terry Hurd of The Historic Sportsman's Restaurant & Bar