A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. New River Gorge National River in West Virginia encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River, is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities.
Big Southern Butte is one of two domes rising from a sea of basalt near the center of the eastern Snake River Plain in Idaho. The butte is one of the largest volcanic domes in the world, but at 300,000 years old it is also one of the youngest. Hikers who trek to the 7,550-foot high summit are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views. Photo by Devin Englestead, BLM Upper Snake Wildlife Biologist.
First light at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Established in November 22, 1939, the refuge has provided a critical stopover and wintering spot for thousands of sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl for 75 years. Bosque del Apache's sandhill crane population has multiplied from 18 birds in the 1840s to more than 20,000 birds today. Photo by Kim Hang Dessoliers (www.sharetheexperience.org).
AMERICA'S GREAT OUTDOORS: Salazar Highlights Two Proposed Projects in Utah to Promote Outdoor Recreation, Conservation
Projects Will Be Part of 50-State Report
WASHINGTON — Just days before the release of a 50-state report outlining some of the country's most promising ways to reconnect Americans to the natural world, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today highlighted two projects in the state of Utah that will be included in the final report — representing what states believe are among the best investments in the nation to support a healthy, active population, conserve wildlife and working lands, and create travel, tourism and outdoor-recreation jobs across the country.
Environmental education programs at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and completion of the Jordan River Parkway are among 100 projects nationwide that will be highlighted in next week's report — two in every state — as part of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative to establish a 21st century conservation and recreation agenda and reconnect Americans to the outdoors.
The report is a result of 50 meetings with governors and stakeholders held by Salazar and other senior Interior officials to solicit ideas on how to best implement AGO in their states. These projects were identified for their potential to conserve important lands and build recreation opportunities and economic growth for the surrounding communities as part of close engagement with Gov. Gary Herbert and the state of Utah, as well as private landowners, local- and tribal-elected officials, community organizations and outdoor-recreation and conservation stakeholders. The full 50-state report will be released in the coming weeks.
“Under the America's Great Outdoors Initiative, we are listening to the people of Utah and communities across America and working with them on locally-based projects that will conserve the beauty and health of our land and water and open up more opportunities for people to enjoy them,” Salazar said. “My staff and I have been asking each governor for the most promising projects to support in their states, and we will do all we can to help move them forward.”
The two projects in Utah highlighted by Salazar in the forthcoming report are:
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
The Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge is situated in northern Utah where the Bear River flows into the Great Salt Lake. Its protected marshes are the largest freshwater components of the Great Salt Lake ecosystem.
The refuge offers many educational programs for Utah residents and youth. Environmental education and interpretation is the primary focus of programs for preschool children, fourth-graders, and young adults (through a Youth Conservation Corps). Programs emphasize watershed health, water quality, water conservation, and natural-resource stewardship. Students engage in conceptual learning through field-trip experiences in the out-of-doors and carry conservation messages home to facilitate enhanced stewardship in their own backyards.
A variety of groups support these programs, including the state Division of Wildlife Resources and the Cache/Logan County School District. Program content is correlated with Utah's Core Curriculum and has the support of teachers and the state-education system.
Jordan River Parkway
The Jordan River Parkway is a continuous, non-motorized, paved trail system next to the river, which flows more than 50 miles from Utah Lake to the Great Salt Lake, crossing three counties. To complete the parkway, four gaps in the system must be filled — a total of 3.5 miles in three municipalities: Salt Lake City, West Jordan, and Bluffdale. When these projects are completed, 66 miles of trails will link three counties along the river corridor.
This parkway project will develop trails and help to restore and enhance the environment. It will connect diverse populations to the metro area's most significant green-space corridor via alternative transportation and provide educational and recreational opportunities.
The National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program is currently supporting the city of West Jordan (located 10 miles south of Salt Lake City) and their partners through a community-led partnership focused on planning for the parkway trail and an environmental-enhancement project involving the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Utah Reclamation and Mitigation Conservation Commission, and the Army Corps of Engineers.
The report will also include potential actions by Interior and its bureaus to support the projects identified. In Utah, for example, potential actions the Department could provide include supporting environmental-education programs at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge through a partnership with the Utah Department of Natural Resources.
The Department could also provide technical and financial assistance to complete the four missing segments in the Jordan River Parkway.
The Department of the Interior will work with each of its key bureaus – including the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – to direct available resources and personnel to make these projects a reality.
“The America's Great Outdoors Initiative turns the conventional wisdom about the federal government's role in conservation on its head,” Salazar said. “Rather than dictate policies or conservation strategies from Washington, it supports grassroots, locally driven initiatives.”
For more information on the President's America's Great Outdoors initiative, click here.
To view a map of the projects already announced, click here.