Near the mouth of the Columbia River, the Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge is a quiet, undisturbed natural area that appears much the same as when the Corps of Discovery traveled along the river in the fall of 1805 and spring of 1806.
Managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the refuge encompasses 35,000 acres of mostly tidelands and open water, and 8,313 acres of islands and sand bars. The calm waters of the refuge make it an ideal playground for kayakers as they move from island to island, avoiding the strong current of the Columbia, while coming face-to-face with nature of all types.
The sanctuary is the winter home and resting area for a variety of migrating birds – including tundra swans, geese, and ducks. Bald eagles are present year-round in 30 to 35 active nest sites.
Estuarine waters provide vital food resources for juvenile salmon as they pause to become acclimated to saltwater before entering the Pacific Ocean.
Other fish species using the estuary include American shad, smelt, perch, starry flounder, bass, catfish, and Pacific lamprey. Harbor seals use sandbars and mudflats as resting sites at low tides, while seals and California sea lions fish in the estuary. Beaver, raccoon, weasel, mink, muskrat, river otter, white-tailed deer also live on the islands.
The Lewis and Clark NWR was established in 1972 to preserve the vital fish and wildlife habitat along approximately 27 miles of the Columbia.