Some 17 years ago, a group of citizens in the rural hamlet of Sherwood wanted to re-establish some of the area’s wetlands, many of which had been lost to agriculture and development. Numerous hard-fought battles later, the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge now encompasses some 1,300 acres—though it may one day hold as much as 4,000. Explore the 400 acres open to the public (and its excellent visitors center, which opened last spring), and you’ll see how a former dairy farm is being transformed into prime habitat for birds. October marks the beginning of the wintering birds’ return, when thousands of waterfowl, such as cinnamon teal and Northern pintail, flock to the wetlands.
GET INVOLVED: You can download a paddler’s map of the Tualatin River from the Tualatin Riverkeepers website (www.tualatinriverkeepers.org), where you can also learn about paddle trips and volunteer events. To help out on the Tualatin Refuge (whether by staffing the visitor center or planting trees), contact the nonprofit Friends of the Refuge (503-625-5944 x227; www.friendsoftualatinrefuge.org).
TRAILHEAD DIRECTIONS: Hit the flat one-mile path bordering the wetlands in early morning or near dusk for the best bird-viewing. Binoculars are a must. (503-625-5944; 19255 SW Pacific Hwy; www.fws.gov/tualatinriver)