Friday Project Spotlight: Chicken Creek-Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge

Over the past century, the Tualatin River basin in Oregon has undergone significant changes to accommodate increased population and urbanization resulting in a staggering 60% loss of the original wetlands in the basin, as well as degradation of the Tualatin River and its tributaries. Despite the loss that has been experienced, many organizations and individuals are working to restore natural processes and habitats to benefit wildlife, fish, and people. In fact, many species of native plants, fish, and wildlife still thrive in the Tualatin basin, and opportunities exist to enhance and restore additional habitat for greater resource enrichment. One place in particular offers tremendous opportunity to restore degraded wetland habitats, the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge.

Located on the outskirts of Portland, Tualatin River NWR is one of a handful of urban national wildlife refuges in the country. Situated within the floodplain of the Tualatin River it supports some of the most abundant and varied wildlife in the watershed. The refuge is home to nearly 200 species of birds, over 28 species of mammals, 14 species of reptiles and amphibians, and a wide variety of insects, fish, and plants. The refuge has also become a place where people can experience and learn about wildlife and the places they call home. The Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge has served nearly 100,000 visitors annually since it opened to the public in 2006.

Currently, an opportunity exists to restore a diverse mosaic of habitats on 227 acres just north of, and in view from, the refuge’s new visitor center. The project will restore 1.5 miles of lower-Chicken Creek to its historical footprint and connection with the Tualatin River, 69 acres of wet prairie, 30 acres of riparian forest, and approximately 128 acres of wetlands. This project provides an ideal opportunity to address multiple resource issues including salmon recovery, water quality, and waterfowl, waterbird and shorebird habitat. Given the refuge’s close proximity to a major metropolitan center, this project will also allow Ducks Unlimited to showcase our conservation efforts and collaborative partnerships. DU has submitted a proposal to the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board and NAWCA requesting grant funds for project development, design, and implementation.