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Umatilla National Forest
Western Meadow Lark ©
Western Meadow Lark
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2517 S.W. Hailey Avenue
Pendleton, Oregon   97801
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Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge, was established in 1969 for wildlife habitat lost to flooding caused by the construction of the John Day Lock and Dam.

The 25,347 acre refuge, located in the arid Columbia Basin of northeast Oregon and southeast Washington astride the Columbia River, includes open water, shallow marshes, backwater sloughs, croplands, islands, and shrub-steppe uplands.

Migrating waterfowl, bald eagle, colonial nesting birds, migratory songbirds, resident wildlife and rare and endangered species can be found on the refuge. It is strategically located within the Pacific Flyway to provide Arctic nesting geese and ducks a wintering site and a resting stopover.

History of the Area
Established in 1969 as mitigation for habitat lost through flooding caused by the construction of the John Day Dam on the Columbia River, Umatilla Refuge is a mecca for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts. Its more than 22,800 acres are a varied mix of open water, slough, shallow marsh, riparian woodlands, seasonal wetlands, cropland, islands, and shrub-steppe upland habitats. The scarcity of wetlands and other natural habitats in this area make the refuge vital to migrating waterfowl, bald eagles, colonial nesting birds, and other migratory and resident wildlife. The refuge is divided into six units: two in Oregon, three in Washington, and one 20-mile stretch of the Columbia River.

The building of dams on the Columbia River began in the 1930s and changed it from a narrow fast-flowing river to a wide slow-moving reservoir. In some places, the river's depth was raised 25 feet. Many islands, riparian areas, and other habitats were flooded, but other arid lands were transformed into wetlands. Native cottonwoods, willows, cattails, and bulrush began to appear in previously deserted desert environments. McCormack Slough in Oregon and Paterson Slough in Washington are good examples of wetlands created by rising Columbia River water levels.

At higher elevations, above the Columbia's reach, the refuge's plant communities are dominated by species capable of tolerating the hot, dry conditions of the Columbia Plateau. Common shrubs include sagebrush, bitterbrush, and rabbitbrush. Native bunchgrasses such as basin wild rye, Indian ricegrass, Idaho fescue, and Sandberg bluegrass were once common here, but today they must compete with very successful exotic plants such as cheatgrass, knapweed, tumbleweed, and perennial pepperweed.

Islands in the Columbia River are an important sanctuary for birds year round. Ducks, Canada geese, great blue herons, and black-crowned night herons nest here in spring and summer. Thousands of ducks and geese winter on the islands, and many different species rest here during spring and fall migration.
 Hiking Trailyes
1. Jubilee Lake Campground: This is a popular campground located near the 92-acre man-made lake, offering activities like fishing and boating.

2. Woodward Campground: Located on the banks of North Fork John Day River in Oregon's northeastern corner, this campsite offers opportunities for hunting, hiking and horseback riding.

3. Bull Prairie Lake Campground: A family-friendly camping spot with access to a beautiful high mountain recreational area that includes amenities such as picnic tables and fire rings at each site.

4. Olive Lake Recreation Area & RV Park: Offers both standard tent sites or full hook-up RV spots along with swimming areas in summer months.

5. Bear Wallow Group Site: Ideal for large groups looking to enjoy outdoor recreation together.

6. Pomeroy Ranger District Dispersed Camping: For those who prefer more primitive style camping without any facilities but surrounded by nature.

7. Tollgate Work Center Horse Corrals: Perfect place if you are planning your trip around equestrian activities.

8. Target Meadows Campgrounds: Known for its historical significance during World War II when it was used as an artillery range; now provides great wildlife viewing opportunity.

Umatilla National Forest is

The trail difficulty level represents the degree of challenge that a trail presents to an average user's physical ability and skill. Difficulty levels are based on the trail condition and location factor such as: trail alignment, steepness of grade, clearing width, tread conditions, gain or loss of elevation, availability of drinking water, type of natural barriers that must be crossed, exposure to cliffs and steep slopes, length of trip, and other appropriate criteria.

A trail will often be rated differently for different kinds of use. For example, a trail may be rated as Easiest for hiker, but Most Difficult for pack and saddle stock use because of the narrow clearing-width.

Trail difficulty levels can even be different for the same type of use, depending on the specific activities. For example, a trail may pose different challenges for a day-use horseback ride, than for a horseback rider leading a string of pack stock with camping equipment. A trail, which has a 36-inch wide, smooth, gravel surface, might usually be classed as an Easiest difficulty level, but if it is located on the side of a steep, rocky cliff where one wrong step means a 500-foot fall. It would be rated a More Difficult or Most Difficult.

Trail difficulty ratings are based on the conditions of the local are so similar trails in a different area might be rated differently.

Horseback Riding:

Backcountry trails in the Blue Mountains are busier that ever before. Crowding, litter and pollution are becoming part of our outdoor experience. We face a choice as horseback travelers: do nothing and see the quality of our outdoor experience decline, or reduce our impact on the land and see its beauty and solitude preserved. We can reduce our impact and have a quality experience by keeping groups small, traveling the less-used trails, improving our camp etiquette, using lightweight and compact equipment, and adopting a pack-it-in- pack-it-out philosophy.

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Nearby Hotels

The Boardman Unit is accessed from the Tower Road exit off Highway 84 approximately 3 miles west of the town of Boardman, Oregon.

The McCormack Unit is located 3 miles south of Highway 730 off of Patterson Ferry Road near Irrigon, Oregon. The Patterson, Ridge, and Whitcomb Island units are all accessed from Highway 14 in Washington.

The Columbia River portion is accessible by boat. Boat ramps are located in Irrigon and Umatilla, Oregon; in Plymouth, Washington; and on the Patterson Unit in Washington.

Most areas of the refuge are very remote with no restroom or drinking water facilities. There is no public drinking water available. Refuge visitors should plan their trips accordingly.

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