Much of Washington east of the Cascades is technically a desert, yet this region supports many important waterfowl areas. Wetlands in this region are tied to local precipitation, naturally occurring streams and those areas created within the Yakima and Columbia Basin irrigation projects. Notable habitat areas in the mid-Columbia region are the McNary, Wallula and Umatilla National Wildlife Refuges along the Snake, Walla Walla and Columbia Rivers. All of these areas provide habitat for hundreds of thousands of migrating waterfowl and shorebirds.
The channeled scablands of eastern Washington, created by glaciers and cataclysmic floods, provide extremely important waterfowl breeding habitat for species such as mallards, redhead, teal, ruddy ducks and large Canada geese. The number and density of potholes in some areas such as the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge equals or exceeds the number and density of potholes in portions of the Prairie Pothole region.
Ducks Unlimited's wetland restoration and enhancement projects are tailored to fit the habitat needs of the species in each unique region of the state. In this case, eastern Washington projects are oriented toward improving degraded wetlands to provide optimal waterfowl production.