The final phase of the $32 million Steigerwald Reconnection Project begins on August 8, 2022, at Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge will close until September 30, 2022, to complete the trail system, install salmon monitoring equipment, finalize floodplain habitat improvements, and remove construction roads and the old parking lot. Visitor amenities, including interpretive message boards and benches, will also be completed during the temporary closure.
Heavy equipment will be on-site completing the final phase of the restoration work, making it unsafe for members of the public to utilize the trail system. Once the work is completed, no further closures or are scheduled for the refuge.
One of the many benefits of the Steigerwald Reconnection Project is the increased habitat for migratory birds utilizing the refuge for a respite along the Pacific Flyway. This restoration project added 120 acres of wetland habitat and planted over half a million trees and shrubs across 250 acres, benefiting birds and other wildlife.
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service greatly appreciates the support of the community – demonstrated by the amount of use the refuge has received since the reopening in May,” said Juliette Fernandez, Refuge Manager for the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge Complex. “Over the past few months, we have talked to our community, heard your needs, and witnessed firsthand what you love most about returning to Steigerwald. This short closure will help us implement the ideas you provided to make Steigerwald an even better place to visit. We look forward to welcoming you back just in time for the winter migrations to begin.”
“The Steigerwald Reconnection Project is the largest habitat restoration project in the history of the lower Columbia River. Overall, the weather cooperated with us to accomplish this massive project, but the exceptionally wet winter and spring season wouldn’t allow us to complete all the work,” said Chris Collins, Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership Restoration Program Lead for the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership. “We promise to work quickly and safely to complete the remaining work so people can continue to enjoy their local wildlife refuge.”
“The Steigerwald Reconnection Project is already doing an amazing job protecting businesses at the port from flooding. It’s also attracting people to our community to hike the trails and support our local businesses,” said David Ripp, CEO for the Port of Camas Washougal. “This final, temporary closure ensures that the benefits we are already seeing will be long lasting.”
During the short closure, members of the public are encouraged to explore the other urban wildlife refuges in the Portland-Vancouver Metro Area as alternative destinations: the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge and Tualatin National Wildlife Refuge are open with trails, driving tour loops, and more.