The Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge was established (along with 3 other refuges in the Willamette Valley of Oregon) in 1965, in response to a need to establish vital winter habitat for wintering waterfowl. Ridgefield Refuge is approximately 5,300 acres of marshes, grasslands and woodlands.
Visitors to Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge enjoy viewing a variety of wildlife within a few minutes of the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan area. The Refuge landscape provides sanctuary throughout the seasons for waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors, river otter, black-tailed deer, coyotes, herons, and numerous other species of wildlife.
The Refuge offers wildlife-dependent public use in designated portions of the Refuge.
The Carty Unit and its 2-mile Oaks to Wetlands Trails are open year-round during daylight hours.
The River 'S' offers the 1-mile Kiwa Trail, which is open for use from May 1 to September 30. The River 'S' Unit also contains the 4.2-mile Auto Tour Route and observation blind that are open year-round during daylight hours. To limit disturbance to wintering waterfowl , visitors must remain in their vehicles along the Auto Tour Route from October 1 to April 30.
Many of the habitat restoration and educational events at the Refuge are made possible because of the support of the Friends of the Ridgefield Nationional Wildlife Refuge (FRNWR). They are a 501(c)3 non-profit group of hardworking, hands on, steadfast volunteers who share a passion and support for the refuge. Their support takes many forms and is always expanding. So far they:
- Fund nature and cultural history education for thousands of children and workshops for their teachers, creating new stewards for the refuge
- Restore habitat through tree plantings and invasive species removal
- Provide special events, outreach, and public education opportunities for visitors to the refuge and the Cathlapotle plankhouse