The Columbia National Wildlife Refuge is a land of imposing basaltic coulees within the heart of the Columbia Plateau. Despite receiving less than 8 inches of rain a year, the refuge is littered with lakes and marshes thanks to seepage from surrounding reclamation and irrigation projects. Its canyons, lakes, wetlands, and sagebrush-steppe environment provide important habitat for a wide array of species. Located along the Pacific Flyway, the refuge is a stop-over and wintering ground for many migratory birds, including thousands of lesser sandhill cranes. Visit in fall and spring for the best bird-watching. Most of the refuge is within the Drumheller Channels, a national natural landmark within the Channeled Scablands, which were formed by ancient cataclysmic floods. Both nature and humans have left a large imprint here, benefiting scores of avian residents.
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