Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Badger Island and Crescent Island, Washington"
Includes ... Badger Island ... Crescent Island ...
Image, 2005, Badger Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Badger Island, Washington. View from Washington State Highway 12, upstream of the Port of Walla Walla. Image taken September 25, 2005.


Badger Island and Crescent Island ...
Badger Island and Crescent Island are located in the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 318, seven miles downstream of the Snake River and the Burbank Slough and two miles upstream of Wallula, Washington and the mouth of the Walla Walla River.

Badger Island, not quite 15 acres in size, is part of the McNary National Wildlife Refuge. The island is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and is co-managed with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Badger Island is the location of the only known nesting colony of American White Pelicans in the State of Washington (information dated 2007), listed as an endangered bird in Washingon. The island is closed to the Public. According to the "Bird Research Northwest" website (2009),

"... American white pelicans first nested on Badger Island in 1997 (ca. 20 breeding pairs) and the colony has grown to about 700 breeding pairs by 2007. Pelicans nest on the ground in at least three disjunct areas of the island: the upstream tip, half way down the island on the eastern shore, and the interior of the island. Much of the pelican colony is concealed from view from the water and from the air by dense shrub vegetation; the size of the colony is estimated by counts of adults from aerial photos taken of the island. ..." [Bird Research Northwest, in partnership with Oregon State University, Real Time Research, and the USGS-Oregon Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, website, June 2009]

Crescent Island, just downstream from Badger Island, is also part of the McNary National Wildlife Refuge complex, and is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and co-managed with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"... Crescent Island is artificial and was created from dredged materials in 1985 as mitigation for waterfowl nesting habitat lost during construction of the Wallula pulp mill; today it consists of ca. 3 ha with a mix of dense upland shrub habitat (island interior) and bare ground (island periphery). Caspian terns have nested on Crescent Island since shortly after the island was built. In 2001 the Caspian tern colony consisted of over 650 nesting pairs, but has steadily declined to 390 breeding pairs in 2008. The area used by nesting terns is small (0.07 ha) compared to the much larger area used by nesting California gulls, which use the area immediately adjacent to the tern colony and around the island’s periphery. About 2,000 pairs of California gulls nest on Crescent Island, along with a few breeding pairs of ring-billed gulls. The presence of the large gull colony on Crescent Island seems to limit the area used by the Caspian tern colony. Black-crowned night-herons and great blue herons nest in trees in the island's interior. ..." [Bird Research Northwest, in partnership with Oregon State University, Real Time Research, and the USGS-Oregon Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, website, June 2009]

Image, 2005, Crescent Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Crescent Island, Washington. View from Washington State Highway 12, upstream of the Port of Walla Walla. The Wallula Gap is in the background. Image taken September 25, 2005.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, October 18, 1805 ...
This morning Cool and fare wind from the S. E. ...     Took our leave of the Chiefs and all those about us [from their camp, the location of today's Sacajawea State Park] and proceeded on down the great Columbia river     passed a large Island at 8 miles about 3 miles in length, a Island on the Stard. Side the upper point of which is opposit the center of the last mentioned Island and reaches 3˝ miles below the 1st. Island and opposit to this near the middle of the river nine Lodges are Situated on the upper point at a rapid which is between the lower point of the 1st Island and upper point of this; great numbers of Indians appeared to be on this Island, and emence quantites of fish Scaffold     we landed a few minits to view a rapid which Commenced at the lower point, passd this rapid which was verry bad between 2 Small Islands two Still Smaller near the Lard. Side, at this rapid on the Stard. Side is 2 Lodges of Indians Drying fish, at 2˝ miles lower and 14˝ below the point passed an Island Close under the Stard. Side on which was 2 Lodges of Indians drying fish on Scaffolds as above

[Today this reach has been inundated by the waters of Lake Wallula, the reservoir behind the McNary Dam. The Burbank Slough - part of the McNary National Wildlife Refuge - dominates the eastern bank of the Columbia and two islands which remain offshore of Wallula are Crescent Island and Badger Island.]    

at 16 miles from the point [junction of the Snake River with the Columbia, location of today's Sacajawea State Park] the river passes into the range of high Countrey at which place the rocks project into the river from the high clifts [Wallula Gap] which is on <both> the Lard. Side about 2/3 of the way across those of the Stard Side about the Same distance, the Countrey rises here about 200 feet above The water and is bordered wth black rugid rocks [Columbia River Basalt],     at the Commencement of this high Countrey [Wallula Gap] on Lard Side a Small riverlet falls in [Walla Walla River] which appears to passed under the high County in its whole cose     Saw a mountain bearing S. W. conocal form Covered with Snow [Mount Hood, Oregon].    passed 4 Islands, at the upper point of the <first> 3rd is a rapid, on this Island is two Lodges of Indians, drying fish, on the fourth Island Close under the Stard. Side is nine large Lodges of Indians Drying fish on Scaffolds as above [Yellepit area]; at this place we were called to land, as it was near night and no appearance of wood [Lewis and Clark are in the Port Kelley area, where today the islands offshore are under the waters of Lake Wallula.],     we proceeded on about 2 miles lower to Some willows, at which place we observed a drift log     formed a Camp on the Lard Side [Spring Gulch] under a high hill nearly opposit to five Lodges of Indians; Soon after we landed, our old Chiefs informed us that the large camp above "was the Camp of the 1st Chief of all the tribes in this quarter [Chief Yellepit], and that he had called to us to land and Stay all night with him, that he had plenty of wood for us &" This would have been agreeable to us if it had have been understood perticelarly as we were compelled to Use drid willows for fuel for the purpose of cooking, we requested the old Chiefs to walk up on the Side we had landed and call to the Chief to come down and Stay with us all night which they did;     ... we made 21 miles to day.





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*River Miles [RM] are approximate, in statute miles, and were determined from USGS topo maps, obtained from NOAA nautical charts, or obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website, 2003

Sources: Bird Research Northwest, in partnership with Oregon State University, Real Time Research, and the USGS-Oregon Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, website, June 2009.

All Lewis and Clark quotations from Gary Moulton editions of the Lewis and Clark Journals, University of Nebraska Press, all attempts have been made to type the quotations exactly as in the Moulton editions, however typing errors introduced by this web author cannot be ruled out; location interpretation from variety of sources, including this website author.
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June 2009