The water-delivery system supplying 1,400 acres of wetlands on Oregon’s most popular wildlife area got a much-needed upgrade last year thanks to a longstanding partnership between Ducks Unlimited and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

And there’s still more work yet to come.

Last year, Ducks Unlimited completed the first phase of a water-delivery upgrade to the McNary Lake wetlands inside the 11,643-acre Sauvie Island Wildlife Area. Not far from Portland, Sauvie Island is by far Oregon’s most visited wildlife area. More than 1 million people arrive each year to bird watch, waterfowl hunt or spend a day at the beach.

These latest upgrades allow wetland managers to now flood wetlands early in the fall migration, providing the first migrating shorebirds and ducks and geese with an important source of habitat that can be difficult to find as they make their way down the Pacific Flyway.

“Not many wildlife areas and refuges in our region have water on the ground in the early season,” said Kelly Warren, Ducks Unlimited’s regional biologist in Western Oregon.

The second phase of the McNary project will begin in the coming months to replace a badly outdated pumping station with a new one that includes a state-of-the-art screen to prevent trapping endangered fish. The pump project is funded thanks to Tim Boyle, the president and CEO of Columbia Sportswear. Boyle gave a generous $300,000 donation to Ducks Unlimited to complete the work.

Mark Nebeker has been Sauvie Island Wildlife Area’s manager since 1998. During that time, he’s worked with Ducks Unlimited to turn close to 2,200 acres of what were once farm fields into some of the most productive wetlands in Oregon – all within sight of the state’s largest city.

“I've been working with DU for 25 years now, and it's been amazing what we've been able to accomplish,” Nebeker said. “DU has done work on every major waterfowl wildlife area in Oregon. Fern Ridge, Summer Lake, Ladd Marsh — you name it — DU has been involved. We've all benefited from the work that you guys do.”

Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing wetlands. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 15 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent.

For more information, visit, and be sure to Follow DU's Twitter feed – @DucksUnlimited and @DUConserve – to get the most up-to-date news from Ducks Unlimited.


Media Contact:
Ryan Sabalow, Western Region
Communications Coordinator
(916) 805-1210