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.
- 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.
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.