Oaks area could be added to refuge

Comments regarding proposal are due by May 4

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to include approximately 88 acres of rare Oregon white oak woodland and savanna forest habitats within the Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

The Oaks Unit, that lies along the northern edge of the refuge, supports the slender-billed, white-breasted nuthatch. The small bird relies on the large-diameter oaks to provide cavities for nesting and furrowed bark that supports the insects that the birds eat.

There are a number of uncommon plant communities listed as sensitive by the Washington Department of Natural Resources that occur in oak woodlands, including the small flower trillium which has been found on the refuge.

“Adding this important oak habitat to Steigerwald Refuge will help ensure that the oaks and the animal and plant species that depend on them will be available for future generations of Americans to enjoy.” Chris Lapp, project leader for the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge Complex, said in a press release.

The refuge is located along state Route 14 at mile post 16, just east of Washougal.

The Draft Land Protection Plan and Environmental Assessment can be downloaded at www.fws.gov/ridgefieldrefuges/complex/index.html and www.refugestewards.org/.

Comments may be emailed to Christopher_Lapp@fws.gov or mailed to Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge Complex, P.O. Box 457, Ridgefield, WA 98642, by Sunday, May 4.

Questions can be directed to Lapp at 887-4106.