Final phase of reconnection project expected to be completed by end of September
When the Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge reopened to the public in May, officials knew they were going to have to close it again, temporarily, for the final phase of the reconnection project.
Officials wanted to give the public a glimpse of the new Steigerwald.
That glimpse has been given rave reviews from the public, as crowds show up every day to walk the trails and take in the wildlife.
For those who want to see it soon, better get to the refuge soon.
The temporary closure begins Monday.
The refuge will close until Sept. 30 to complete the trail system, install salmon monitoring equipment, finalize floodplain habitat improvements, and remove construction roads and the old parking lot, according to a press release from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership, and the Port of Camas-Washougal.
Visitor amenities, including message boards and benches, will also be completed during the temporary closure.
Heavy equipment will be used, making it unsafe for the public during this final phase of the $32 million project. Once Steigerwald reopens, there are no more expected closures.
The Steigerwald Reconnection Projected increased habitat for migratory birds for a respite along the Pacific Flyway. This project added 125 acres of wetlands and planted more than a half million trees and shrubs across 250 acres.
“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 reopening in May,” said Juliette Fernandez of U.S. Fish and Wildlife. “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 migration to begin.”
The reconnection project is the largest habitat restoration project in the history of the lower Columbia River, according to Chris Collins of the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership. He said the exceptionally wet winter and spring season put a delay on some of the work needed to complete the project.
“We promise to work quickly and safely to complete the remaining work so people can continue to enjoy their local wildlife refuge,” Collins said.
“The Steigerwald Reconnection Project is already doing an amazing job protecting businesses at the port from flooding,” said David Ripp, CEO for the Port of Camas-Washougal. “It’s also attracting people to our community to hike the rails and support our local businesses. This final, temporary closure ensures that the benefits we are already seeing will be long lasting.”
During the closure at Steigerwald, officials encourage people to explore other nearby urban wildlife refuges, including the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge and the Tualatin River (Oregon) National Wildlife Refuge.
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