Public Access Improvement at Ridgefield NWR
Main Avenue Project
In July 2019, road crews will begin a project to replace the 10-foot culvert (water passage tunnel) under Main Avenue where it intersects Gee Creek. The replacement will be a 40-foot arch culvert that will allow more water to flow under the roadway, especially important during major rain events.
The project will also greatly enhance visitor access to Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge’s Carty Unit - home of the Cathlapotle Plankhouse, Carty Lake Trail, and Oaks-to-Wetlands Trail. The sidewalks on Main Avenue from downtown Ridgefield will be extended all the way to the Carty Unit entrance as part of this project. For the first time, Refuge visitors will have the option to access the Refuge without a car or the dangerous option of walking along the narrow, unprotected shoulder of Main Avenue. Once completed, residents and visitors to Ridgefield can walk or roll a continuous loop through the City, Refuge, and Port or Ridgefield.
While public uses at the Carty Unit will not change (i.e. bikes will continue to be prohibited on Refuge trails), we will install bike racks at trailheads. You’ll be able to bike to the Refuge, then enjoy a relaxing stroll along the trails, taking in the diverse wildlife, dynamic habitats, and impressive cultural features.
July 8, 2019 through early October 2019: A detour to the Refuge’s Carty Unit will be in effect. The project is anticipated to be completed by the first week in October (subject to change).
solving the high water problem
The current 10-foot culvert at Main Street and Gee Creek is designed to pass water at a rate less than 645 cubic feet per second (cfs). And that’s assuming there’s nothing blocking the culvert, which is almost never the case. Woody debris and sediment from Gee Creek are a constant presence, lowering the flow rate and making passage of aquatic wildlife species much more difficult.
Water flow rates have been recorded as high as 700cfs at Gee Creek and Main Avenue during heavy, prolonged rain events. When this happens, the water backs up and eventually overtops Main Avenue. And because Main Avenue dips at Gee Creek, the roadway begins to act like a dam, holding up to a 20-foot column of water. By replacing the current culvert with a 40-foot arch culvert, the roadway will be raised and the flow rate capacity greatly increased. Aquatic species will also benefit from easier passage under the roadway.
Starting July 8, 2019, a detour to the Refuge’s Carty Unit will be in effect (see map above). Access to the Refuge is via 289th/291st St. Connect to these streets from Pioneer Street by going North along either N 45th Ave. or N Reimen Rd./NW 51st Ave.
The detour will be in effect throughout the project, which is scheduled to be completed by the first week in October, prior to the 20th Anniversary of Birdfest and Bluegrass. This is, however, beyond the control of the Refuge and subject to change.
There are no other visitor disruptions as a result of this project. Refuge hours and trail access are not impacted by this project.
Check back to Refuge2020.info and The 20/20 Blog for project updates.