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 Spotlights Nebraska's Conservation of Sandhill Cranes, Waterfowl at Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District
Office of the Secretary
Applauds Partnerships in Conservation and Restoration Projects
GIBBON, NE -- Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today toured portions of the Rainwater Basin and the Platte River that serve as vital stopover areas for millions of migrating birds, including a wet meadow restoration project at Rowe Sanctuary that will provide habitat for the sandhill crane and other wildlife.
Secretary Salazar highlighted the important contributions of partners such as Ducks Unlimited, Nebraska Game and Parks, and Tri-Basin Natural Resources District in conserving and restoring habitat in the region.
“The kind of conservation partnership that we have in Nebraska is the heart and soul of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors Initiative,” Salazar said. “The Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District is a model for conservation in the 21st century, built from the ground up and with a view toward healthy lands, waters, wildlife and economies.”
Salazar toured the Funk and Clark Waterfowl Production Areas, two of 60 prominent wetland areas within the Rainwater Basin that are owned and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Secretary ended the trip with a visit to the restoration project on Rowe Sanctuary and viewing the evening return of sandhill cranes to the Platte River. The restored area is expected to benefit the endangered whooping crane which migrates through the same region in mid to late April.
South central Nebraska remains a traditional stopover for migratory birds. Each spring the Big Bend Reach of the Platte River and the Rainwater Basin provide food and rest for millions of ducks, geese, cranes, and shorebirds making their northward journey. Their arrival begins with the first signs of melting snow and extends into early May.
The most famous of all the migrations is the month-long stay of sandhill cranes. Approximately 500,000 cranes roost and feed along the Platte River, while nearly 10 million waterfowl rest and feed in wetlands scattered throughout the Rainwater Basin. The Big Bend Reach extends from Overton to Chapman Nebraska. The Rainwater Basin encompasses about 6200 square miles immediately south of the Big Bend Reach.
Agricultural and road development during the past century has caused alterations to these migration habitats, making it critical for the Fish and Wildlife Service and its conservation partners to work together to conserve this region for the great migration.