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).
From the late 1960s to early 1970s Alcoa (Alcoa, Inc and Alcoa World Alumina, LLC) operated a chlorine-alkali processing unit at its Point Comfort, Texas, plant that discharged mercury into Lavaca Bay. Coal tar processing contaminated other areas around the facility with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). In 1988, a portion of Lavaca Bay was closed for the taking of finfish and crabs for consumption after mercury levels in these resources were found to exceed levels considered safe for human consumption.
A trustee council, made up of representatives of the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC), the Texas General Land Office (TGLO), the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), was established to review, select, and oversee implementation of restoration actions for natural resources injured by the release of mercury and PAHs. A comprehensive restoration plan was developed and Alcoa implemented a suite of projects in and around the bay to compensate for natural resource losses resulting from the site contamination. A staged approach to restoration was adopted with the first stage focused on recreational fishing service losses. To offset these losses, three fishing piers were constructed, a boat ramp was replaced, two timber docks were built and an existing jetty was modified to improve access and enhance recreational fishing opportunities in the bay. The second stage focused on natural resource injuries and service losses of an ecological nature. To restore these losses, 729 acres of land were purchased for transfer to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for preservation as part of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, 70 acres of inter-tidal salt marsh were created within the refuge and 11 acres of new oyster reef habitat were created in Lavaca Bay.
The restoration projects implemented by Alcoa were identified through an expedited natural resource damage assessment (NRDA) process that was undertaken cooperatively with Alcoa and the natural resource trustees. The cooperative assessment process permitted comprehensive coverage of all NRDA issues associated with the site and led to good working relationships between federal/state partners, Alcoa, and the local community.