Flora & Fauna
Several threatened and endangered animal species share the waters and shorelines of the Northwest Discovery Water Trail. These animals range from the western pond turtle and bald eagle, to certain species of fish, such as steelhead, bull trout and salmon. The stories of declining species and the ongoing efforts to help restore their populations are intertwined with the human stories of survival and development.
For many, salmon define the spirit of the Pacific Northwest. Salmon have been central to the culture, religion and livelihood of the region’s native people for thousands of years. Salmon are anadramous fish. This means they are born in freshwater, mature at sea and return upstream to spawn and die in the stream where their lives began. This cycle can take years and thousands of miles journeying through fresh and saltwater. There are five species of Pacific salmon found along the trail: Chinook, chum, sockeye, coho and pink.
Bull trout are no longer found throughout their native waters. Today they survive only in some upper tributary streams and several lake and reservoir systems. Some bull trout spend their entire lives close to where they hatched. They are cold water fish and more sensitive to increased water temperature, poor water quality, and low water flow than salmon.
Humans are also affected by water quality and climate conditions. Care and study of threatened and endangered species is important to us all.
For more information on endangered species go to: http://endangered.fws.gov
The variety and number of wild animals match the wide diversity of landforms found near the Northwest Discovery Water Trail. Native animals will sometimes appear in huge numbers at unexpected places or be hard to find at refuges designed to protect them. Birds, mammals, and reptiles are part of the fascinating array of sights and sounds on the river.
Water birds, such as the gull and great blue heron, join raptors like vultures, eagles and osprey overhead. At certain times flocks of hundreds of geese and swans are migrating. Numerous other seasonal or resident waterfowl can be found in marshes and wetlands. Swallows dart quickly by on their hunt for water loving insects. Songbirds use low-lying shrubs and trees to nest and feed. Deer and elk use river and stream valleys as places to browse, drink and rest. Bighorn sheep and marmots appear high above on rocky outcrops, finding patches of grasses to eat. Sightings of beaver and river otter are not uncommon.
Refuges are one way to save native habitat for plants and wildlife, and to support fish and other water dwellers. Local, state, and federal parks, natural areas, and refuges have different regulations and closures during nesting or critical times for the survival of various species. Please observe wildlife with care, watch where you are stepping on fragile shoreline, and take only pictures from these special places.
Respect wildlife. Do not approach animals or attempt to feed them. If animals approach you while on the water, it is okay to let them, but do not move toward them. When moving on, do so directly away from the animal or its current path.
- Mid-Columbia River National Wildlife Refuge (Toppenhish, McNary, Cold
Springs, Umatilla, and McKay National Wildilfe Refuges):
- Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge Complex (Pierce, Franz Lake, Steigerwald Lake, and Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuges):
- Saddle Mountain National Wildlife Refuge:
- Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge: