Description - Lewis and Clark NWR features thousands of waterbirds, such as great blue herons, gulls, and shorebirds, that feed in the shallows and mudflats. Grebes and cormorants dive in the deeper water of the channels in search of fish. The willow, cottonwood, and spruce trees of the vegetated islands provide nesting sites and lookout perches for numerous small birds and hawks. Bald eagles are present year-round; there are 30-35 active nest sites. Harbor seals and California sea lions feed for fish in the estuary. Beaver, raccoon, weasel, mink, muskrat, and river otter also live on the islands.
- Lewis and Clark NWR includes about a third of the Columbia River estuary in Oregon, beginning 12 miles above the river's mouth and extending for 15 miles. It contains about 20 named islands totaling about 8,300 acres, as well as about 35,000 acres of sandbars, tidal marshes, mudflats, and open water. The estuary is a wintering and resting area for waterfowl that nest in Alaska and winter in Oregon and California. During the winter, 50,000 ducks, 10,000 Canada geese, and 1,000 tundra swans are typically present, along with mallards, pintails, American wigeon, canvasbacks, and lesser scaups.
Many species of fish also use the estuary for spawning, as a nursery, for feeding, and as a passageway between the ocean and upper Columbia River. The estuary is important as a feeding area for juvenile salmon while they go through the physical changes that allow them to survive in salt water. They then migrate into the ocean, where they grow to adulthood and live for several years.
Recreation - Visitors will enjoy boating on the Columbia River with the aid of boat launch facilities located at John Day Point and Aldrich Point in Oregon and at Skamokawa, Washington. There is also fishing for salmon, trout, sturgeon, and warm water fish on the river and hunting for waterfowl. Camping is available at Skamokawa Vista Park and in private campgrounds.
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.
Lewis and Clark NWR is made of islands in the lower Columbia River in Oregon. They are accessible only by boat and some of the islands are visible from U.S. Highway 30, 5 miles east of Astoria.