Success Story 2024

Willapa Bay – Expanding a National Wildlife Refuge

Bear River / Willapa Washington
Photo: Tyler Roemer
Willapa Bay – Expanding a National Wildlife Refuge
Western Rivers Conservancy
2,366 acres protected

Earlier this year, TCA grantee, Western Rivers Conservancy helped expand the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge in southwest Washington by fifteen percent, adding 2,366 acres to this incredible landscape. This includes 39 miles of streams that are critical to salmon and steelhead, as well as habitat for numerous species including threatened marbled murrelets. The addition will also expand the landscape’s recreational opportunities beyond boating, to also include hiking, fishing, hunting, and other activities.

Willapa Bay is the second largest estuary in the western United States, boasting abundant salt marsh and tidal mudflats, coastal dunes, and beaches, old growth forests, and other critical habitat. It was established as a National Wildlife Refuge by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937. Western Rivers Conservancy was able to expand the protected area in January by acquiring additional land and transferring it to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for inclusion in the Refuge. This transfer will help protect the surrounding freshwater landscape from additional industrial logging activity and protect over 200 acres of wetlands on the property. USFWS will work on opening the property to the public for recreation in 2025 or 2026.