Cathlapotle Plankhouse Project

The Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the educational, environmental, and cultural programs of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge includes the site of the historic Chinook tribal village of Cathlapotle, one of the largest Indian villages in Washington encountered by explorers Lewis and Clark. The Friends of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge have constructed and operate a replica of a historic Chinook tribal plankhouse as an outdoor classroom for interpreting the natural and cultural heritage preserved on the wildlife refuge.

From the building of the Cathlapotle Plankhouse to carrying out its current interpretive programs and events, volunteers have played a critical role in the preservation and promotion of this historic place. Over the course of two years, hundreds of volunteers were involved in the construction of the plankhouse, from design and fundraising to splitting the wall planks and raising roof beams. Since construction, volunteers have provided on-the-ground public interpretation of the Cathlapotle Village archaeological site.

Budget constraints prevent the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from providing more than one staff person to coordinate, manage, and deliver Cathlapotle Plankhouse programs. The work of the volunteers from Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge is essential to the survival of the plankhouse interpretive program.

Designated a Preserve America Steward in February 2015