When early pioneers reached the Grande Ronde valley in the 1860’s, they found the valley was as much a marsh as it was dry land. Over the decades, Ladd Marsh was drained to make room for a thriving farm community. Farming is still the major activity in the valley, but over the last four decades, Ladd Marsh has been restored and expanded. The Oregon Fish and Wildlife department and the City of La Grande entered into a unique inter governmental agreement to allow the City’s treated waste water to flow into the marsh, providing a stable source of water. Funding was acquired to purchase adjoining farm and range land, and new ponds were dug.
Now, Ladd Marsh is one of the outstanding birding areas for all kinds of waterfowl and small birds, including cranes, ibis, and egrets. The ODFW has dedicated staff who have made the area family friendly with birding trails and roads that allow excellent viewing. A long pier extends into one pond to allow birders to set up with binoculars and spotting scopes. The area is located on either side of Interstate 84, so access is convenient when you are in the La Grande area.