William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge
Category: Preservation, enhancement, and restoration (US Fish and Wildlife Service).
Location: Finley National Wildlife Refuge is situated along the foothills of the Coast Range on the western edge of the Willamette Valley, approximately 10 miles south of Corvallis.
Size: The refuge covers a total of 5,791 acres, comprised of cropland (managed for goose forage), oak savanna, mixed forests, and prairie. The refuge includes a total of 366 acres of land classified as wetland prairie.
The wetland prairie in Finley NWR is considered to be the largest contiguous tract of historic (remnant) wetland prairie habitat remaining within the Willamette Valley. This area was grazed until 1966, but was never tilled. As a result, this wetland prairie contains a high diversity of native species, unaltered hydrology, and topography with mounds, hummocks, and vernal pools (USFWS, 2011). The refuge has over 12 miles of hiking trails and observation platforms for the public viewing and a tour route for cars.
Grazing of the wetland prairie area occurred until it was established as a Research Natural Area (RNA) in 1966, at which time prescribed burning became the preferred management treatment to maintain the prairie habitat structure. Fire was used sparingly until 1990, when a structured prescribed fire plan was implemented and burning increased. Selective mowing and brush cutting with chain saws have also been utilized as methods for controlling woody vegetation. All mechanical work, including mowing and removal of felled trees/shrubs, is done using a low ground pressure skid-steer tractor. The preferred fire interval on the wetland prairie management units is 2-4 years. Active wetland prairie restoration was begun in 1999 on approximately 130 acres of retired agricultural fields within the NWR. Typical restoration in these areas has involved herbicide treatments for two successive growing seasons, often with prescribed fire in one or both seasons depending on herbaceous cover, and no-till drilling of native wet prairie grasses and forbs in the second fall. The first year follow-up treatment may involve late spring mowing to reduce seed set of non-native annuals, spot herbicide treatment of invasive plants that may impact native establishment, and supplemental seeding to increase species diversity.
Access and Contact
Public access is permitted, but some areas are off limits to the public during winter months. For additional information, call 541-757-7236, or go to http://www.fws.gov/refuge/William_L_Finley/