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Columbia National Wildlife Refuge




Columbia National Wildlife Refuge
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General Information

Description - The Columbia NWR is managed primarily for wintering waterfowl but also supports high public use, especially for fishing. The climate is semiarid, and most of the land is covered with sagebrush and grasslands dominated by cheatgrass. As a result of the surrounding Columbia Basin Irrigation Project, however, the refuge has 3,800 acres of wetlands with numerous lakes, ponds, and streams. During the past 45 years, the irrigation project has developed over 630,000 acres of productive, irrigated farmland, which forms the basis of the local economy. Associated water and wildlife not only provide recreation for local residents but also attract numerous visitors from all over the state.

Attractions - The Refuge waters include 145 acres of ponds, 841 acres of lakes, and 17.8 miles of streams. Many species exist in these waters including rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, brown trout, largemouth bass, black crappie, yellow perch, and sunfish. A wintering area for an average population of more than 100,000 ducks (mostly mallards) and Canada geese. Some mallards, redheads, and cinnamon teal nest on the refuge along with various song, water, marsh, and shorebirds, and many hawks and owls.

Recreation - There are boat launches at Corral, Soda, Blythe, Hutchinson, Teal, and Lower Hampton Lakes. Camping at the Soda Lake Campground features handicapped accessible facilities and requires a recreation user fee. Trout and warm water fishing as well as upland game and waterfowl hunting are available at this refuge.

Climate - The climate of Washington varies within each region. The Cascades split the state and alter the weather patterns. The mountains receive large amounts of wet, heavy snow from October through May. These peaks remain snow covered throughout the year. The terrain east of the mountains receives approximately 12 inches of rainfall per year, generally much less than west of the mountains. Since the area east of the mountains is landlocked, temperatures in this region are lower during the winter months. Frequent winds coming down from the mountains also contribute to the low temperatures of eastern Washington.

Due to the coastal geography, western Washington is primarily temperate. The proximity to the ocean stabilizes the climate, making extreme temperatures very rare. The area receives large amounts of precipitation from Pacific rain and snow storms.

Location - The Columbia NWR is located in southeast Washington. The refuge sits about 8 miles northwest of Othello, just south of I-90, and Moses Lake. The refuge has good access from State Highway 17 and I-90.


Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Filed By: DayTripDave (Ellensburg, WA)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: The Columbia National Wildlife Refuge office is no longer in downtown Othello. It has moved onto the refuge at: 51 South Morgan Lake Road, approximately 6 miles NNW of Othello. There is a map of the refuge available at the CNWR office that is updated each year to reflect that year's Sandhill Crane viewing sites. The map is made available about one week prior to the Othello Sandhill Crane Festival, which is held annually on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of the last weekend in March. From downtown Othello, the CNWR office is accessed by leaving Othello northbound on North Broadway Ave, which segues into West McManamon Road, with no turns, as the road leaves Othello proper. South Morgan Lake Road is a right turn at 3.7 miles from the canal you cross over as you're leaving the Othello neighborhood. The office is approximately 0.8 miles north after turning onto S Morgan Lake Rd. Many roads on the refuge are washboard gravel - do yourself a favor: if you can afford to, install high quality struts and shocks on your vehicle.

Filed By: Donald Lee Struthers (Othello, WA)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Stop and explore the many various shapes that volcanic basalt rock eventually becomes. Huge columns 10 to 20 feet high, perfectly frozen, side by side, like huge dark crystals rising out of the wild flower desert floor, covered with all the many colors of various moses and fungi. Or find the magnificently shaped FIRE ROCK TORCH, which is frozen in time forever. As hot volcanic basalt from below, finds a crack and pushes past the crust covered bottom of an ancient lake, it suddenly cools as it touches the water from above. As the water retreated over an eon ago, what is left thrusting up violently up to the sky, is the pointed slivers of basalt that have formed a crystaline like pillar of frozen fire over 15 feet high. Don't try to hug it.


More Information

Contact Information:
Mid-Columbia River NWRC, 64 Maple Street , Burbank, WA, 99323, Phone: 509-546-8300, Fax: 509-546-8303
, mcriver@fws.gov

Additional Information:
Columbia River Plateau - Throughout the Columbia River Plateau region, you can be as active or sedate as you want at any given moment. If you think of Washington only in terms of the damp forests and cityscapes of Puget Sound, you will be amazed at the sculpted beauty of this high desert land.
Washington National Wildlife Refuges and Preserves - Washington's National Wildlife Refuges are found throughout the state. There are a total of eleven refuges in Washington.

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