Temporary Trail Closure at Steigerwald Lake NWR
In preparation for the Columbia River Reconnection project at Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge, the Refuge is conducting an invasive vegetation management project along a portion of the Gibbons Creek Art Trail. The project will take place July 1st through July 3rd. To ensure public safety, we will close the Trail between the parking lot trailhead and the first stand of cottonwood trees on these days. This will include closing the parking lot and bathrooms.
Your alternative access to the Refuge will be from the William Park Clark Trail (a.k.a. the Columbia River dike trail). Parking can be found at William Clark Park. During the project you will still be able to walk a loop around Redtail Lake, using the seasonal portion of the Gibbons Creek Art Trail.
The project area necessitating the closure is known as the alluvial fan of Gibbons Creek. An alluvial fan, as the name suggests, is a fan-shaped deposit of sediment found at the end of a moving body of water, like a river. Typically, these form where there is a sudden shift in the velocity of the water, such as when a river comes out of a mountain and levels off in a flatter area, like the Refuge.
Controlling invasive vegetation is an important part of the preparation process for the major reconnection project coming up at the Refuge. The alluvial fan site is currently filled with reed canary grass, a plant that is adept at outcompeting native vegetation. Step one in our management effort has been to mow the area. On July 1-3, we will be applying an herbicide to further control the reed canary grass. Eventually, native grasses and shrubs will be planted, and woody debris placed for fish cover. These invasive management techniques greatly increase the likelihood that the new plantings will take hold and support a healthy aquatic ecosystem.