More Access Projects

It’s not just the wildlife that will see an upgrade to their National Wildlife Refuge experience in the coming years. Projects are planned, and in some cases underway, that will provide improvements to the ways you can access and experience Ridgefield and Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuges. Get a preview below and be sure to check back regularly for expanded details.

 
 
The Refuge’s pedestrian bridge will soon be part of a loop connecting downtown Ridgfield to the Refuge and the Port, all without need of a car.

The Refuge’s pedestrian bridge will soon be part of a loop connecting downtown Ridgfield to the Refuge and the Port, all without need of a car.

ridgefield nwr main street extension

If you’ve ever tried to make your way to Ridgefield NWR’s Carty Unit as a pedestrian from downtown Ridgefield, then you’ve come to where the sidewalk ends. By the end of 2019, that will no longer be the case. Work began in March 2019 on Main Street at the intersection with Gee Creek. Here, the road will be raised and a new, larger overpass across the creek will be installed. As part of the project, the sidewalk on the Refuge side of Main Street will be extended all the way to the Carty Unit entrance. Form mid-June through early July, there will be frequent traffic disruption on Main Avenue between downtown Sherwood and Refuge Headquarters, with flaggers present to ensure safe passage. From July 7th until the first weekend in October (Birdfest and Bluegrass weekend), Main Avenue will be completely closed at Gee Creek and traffic will be detoured to accommodate major construction activities. Check back for alternate routes to the Refuge in July.

 
Tundra swans are a frequent site on Carty Lake.  Photo ©Linda Severson

Tundra swans are a frequent site on Carty Lake. Photo ©Linda Severson

Ridgefield nwr port entry to carty lake

Now that the Port of Ridgefield has seen a recovery from its days as a timber processing site, a vision is underway for a thriving hub of community activity. Even before that vision unfolds, we are preparing the Refuge for a new point of entry, one that will connect you from the Port, directly to Carty Lake. Improvement of this entry point includes interpretive kiosks, a lake overlook platform, and a small trail network outside the fee area, in case you just want to come in for a peek. From this point, you will also be able to walk a new trail that travels around Carty Lake and connects with the Oaks-to-Wetlands Trail at the Cathlapotle Plankhouse. The Carty Lake trail will open May 1, 2019, and will be a seasonal trail open annually between May 1st and September 30th.

 
You’ll be seeing the Refuge in a whole new way along the Gibbons Creek Art Trails once the Columbia River Reconnection project is complete.

You’ll be seeing the Refuge in a whole new way along the Gibbons Creek Art Trails once the Columbia River Reconnection project is complete.

steigerwald lake nwr parking and trail relocation

The Columbia River Reconnection project at Steigerwald Lake NWR also means a significant opportunity for a new visitor experience. The existing parking lot and trailhead will be relocated a little bit to the West of its current location, positioned behind the levee that will be in place to ensure water doesn’t encroach on the water treatment plant adjacent to the Refuge. This also means the long, straight beginning to the Gibbons Creek Trail will be moved to an elevated vantage point to ensure it stays above the new water line. You’ll get an expansive view of the Refuge like you’ve never had before. Reconnecting to the Columbia River means the dike trail along the river will be breached in a couple of locations. A new, meandering trail will be installed, including a couple of small footbridges over the connection points to the river. A project of this size will mean significant disruption to Refuge access. We anticipate a 6-week closure of the Refuge in September 2019, and a year-long closure of the Refuge starting in 2020.