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The refuge was founded in 1992. Onions were once farmed on its land; wapato may have preceded them.

TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Eva Kristofik, left, and Larry Klimek, who work at the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, stand in front of marshlands outside the refuge headquarters near Sherwood.In 1992, the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge was first established by the federal government in collaboration with the nearby City of Sherwood.

Next Saturday, Oct. 14, the refuge will mark its 25th anniversary with an event open to the public, with refreshments and activities for children.

The refuge's headquarters and public access are located just off Highway 99W, in between Tualatin and Sherwood. It is a popular spot for birdwatchers and trail-users, offering a tranquil natural setting within the booming suburbs of southeastern Washington County.

While the refuge is just a quarter-century old, the marshes and waterways it covers have a much longer history and connection with human activity in the region.

Before the arrival of settlers on the Oregon Trail, the Atfalati (also known as Tualatin) Indians cultivated a root vegetable called wapato in swampy areas in the Tualatin Valley. After Oregon became a U.S. territory and later a state, the Atfalatis were relocated to the Grand Ronde reservation to the south and wapato became scarce. The crop that replaced it in many of Washington County's marshlands was onions, a heritage that lives on in the name of nearby Cipole Road (from the Italian for "onion"), as well as in Sherwood's annual Great Onion Festival — which is also being held next Saturday.

In a nod to the history of the land it now occupies, the refuge will also display an onion sorter, a machine of the sort used in cultivating the crop, at the Oct. 14 event.

The 25th anniversary celebration will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a short ceremony at 11 a.m.

As a special treat for guests, a portion of the refuge called the Chicken Creek channel that is usually closed to the public will be opened, allowing people to walk the channel and learn about the refuge's plans to restore its natural flow.

Parking on-site is limited. The refuge is also served by TriMet bus lines 93 and 94 as they run southbound on Highway 99W.

The refuge's address is 19255 S.W. Pacific Highway.

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