Description - Julia Butler Hansen Refuge for the Columbian White-tailed Deer provides critical habitat of the
endangered Columbia white-tailed deer. This subspecies of deer is found only along the lower Columbia River near Cathlamet, Washington, and Westport, Oregon, and along the Umpqua River near Roseburg, Oregon.
The deer once ranged throughout the river valleys west of the Cascade Range from the Umpqua River in Oregon northward through the Willamette Valley to Puget Sound, and westward down the lower Columbia River. In 1806, explorers Lewis and Clark reported it as abundant from The Dalles to the mouth of the Columbia.
Pioneer settlers cleared trees and brush from the floodplains along the rivers to convert the area to agriculture. The deer were forced into smaller and smaller areas as their habitat was altered. By the turn of the twentieth century, the Columbian white-tailed deer had disappeared from nearly all of its range, and in the 1930s it was thought to be extinct.
Remnant populations later were discovered where the deer are found now. The refuge was established in 1972 as a sanctuary for about 230 of the remaining deer. The current population along the lower Columbia, on and off the refuge, is about 800 animals, of which about 400 live on the refuge.
- Refuge lands include an area of the southwest Washington mainland and Tenasillahe, Wallace, Price, and Hunting islands in Oregon: approximately 4,750 acres of diked Columbia River floodplain and undiked islands. The vegetation is a patchwork of small woodlots, old fields, managed fields, brushy thickets, tidal marshes, and forested tidal swamps.
Livestock grazing and haying are used to keep managed fields in short, nutritious, green forage for deer feeding. These fields also attract to wintering Canada geese, tundra swans, mallards, widgeons, and pintails. Waterbirds and raptors are common. Bald eagles nest on Price and Tenasillahe islands. Salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, and trout use the surrounding waters.
Recreation - Viewing Whitetail deer populations is the main activity at the Julia Butler Hansen National Wildlife Refuge.
Climate - Washington's climate varies with each region. The Cascades split the state and alter weather patterns. Moisture bearing winds coming from the west give generous amounts of precipitation to the western slopes of the mountains, with wintertime snow above about 3000 feet. This area has an average annual precipitation of 87 inches and an average wintertime snow depth of 87 inches.
Average maximum summer temperatures are in the mid to high 60s with a minimum average in the mid 40s. Because of the elevation and distance from the moderating oceans, winter temperatures are much colder than those in in the Seattle area, with minimum temperatures in the 20s and maximum temperatures in the 30s.
Julia Butler Hansen Refuge For The Columbian whitetail Deer is located along the lower Columbia River near Cathlamet, Washington, and Westport, Oregon, and along the Umpqua River near Roseburg, Oregon.