Purpose: The Little Pend Oreille NWR was established in 1939 as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife. (Executive Order 8014) and for use as an inviolate sanctuary, or for any other management purpose, for migratory birds. (Migratory Bird Conservation Act).

Location: The Refuge is located in Northeastern Washington, southeast of Colville in Stevens County (see map)

Acreage: The total size of the main unit of the refuge is 41,878 acres. That doesn’t include the disconnected units: Kaniksu (716 acres), Cusick (254 acres), Springdale (54 acres) and the combined Okanogan county units (35 acres). Refuge inholdings total about 6,500 acres and consist mainly of industrial timberlands owned by Stimson Lumber and Boise Cascade. Total acreage within the approved boundary is 46,700 acres.


Elevations range from 1,800′ on the western boundary to 5,600′ on the eastern boundary. The Refuge is bordered on its southern and eastern sides by National Forests (Colville and Kaniksu) with scattered industrial timberland, state lands, and privately‑owned small farms, ranches, and subdivisions on the north and west.


Little Pend Oreille River

Little Pend Oreille River

Mixed conifer habitats include lowland forests of Ponderosa pine, mid‑elevation forests dominated by Douglas fir, western larch, and lodgepole pine, and upper elevation forests of true fir, spruce, hemlock, and western red cedar. The Little Pend Oreille River flows through the northern portion of the Refuge. Eastern and southern boundaries follow the river’s watershed divide. Small streams and lakes, marshes, open meadows, and former farm fields create diverse habitats on this forested refuge.

Wildlife: There are diverse montane forest and riparian wildlife communities. One hundred and eighty‑six bird species have been recorded. Bald eagles use the Little Pend Oreille River during winter months. State candidates for, or currently listed species of concern occurring on the Refuge include: golden eagle; northern goshawk; flammulated owl; white‑headed, pileated, Lewis’, and black‑backed woodpeckers; Vaux swift; pygmy shrew; fisher; and Townsend’s big‑eared bat. Forest passerine (perching) birds are plentiful and include a mixture of eastern and western species. Cavity‑dependent birds, such as woodpeckers, nuthatches, and chickadee are abundant.









Lakes and marshes provide spring stopover points for migratory waterfowl. The Refuge provides habitat for breeding populations of Canada Geese, Mallard, Wood Duck, Barrow’s and Common Goldeneye, and Common and Hooded Merganser. Native fish include cutthroat trout, red‑sided shiner, and sculpin. Rainbow, brook, and German brown trout, and tench have been introduced. White‑tailed deer, mule deer, elk, moose, black bear, cougar, coyote, lynx, and bobcat are some of the large mammals living on the Refuge. The presence of fisher, marten, wolverine, and gray wolf is unknown. The potential exists to manage for large species or species which require large tracts of forest habitat.

Out for the Birds

History: In 1939, most Refuge lands were acquired through the Resettlement Administration which retired marginal farmland. Other lands were either purchased from willing sellers, or acquired through exchange with Washington Department of Natural Resources. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife managed the Refuge through a cooperative agreement from 1965 to 1994. Department management objectives emphasized game species and wildlife‑oriented recreation. Habitat management action included timber harvest, prescribed fire, livestock grazing, forage planting, and noxious weed control. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service resumed on‑site management in 1994.