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).
Historically, the West Branch of the Wolf River in Northeastern Wisconsin supported a healthy population of native brook trout while also providing wild rice and other food for the residents of the Menominee Indian Reservation. A sawmill was operated along the Wolf River for several decades until flood events in the mid 1900s carried logs a mile downstream from the mill where the logs came to rest in a logjam that altered the natural flow of the river. Instead of the naturally swift flowing trout stream it had been, the West Branch of the Wolf River was transformed into a slow, wide, shallow stretch characterized by sedimentation and warm water – no longer suitable for native populations of trout. Reconfiguring the Wolf River to once again support a healthy trout fishery is one of many projects that the Trustee Council has chosen to restore healthy fish populations in the Fox River/Green Bay watershed to compensate the public for injured fish populations and several years of diminished recreational fishing activities.
The Fox River/Green Bay Natural Resource Trustee Council enlisted contractor support to assist the Menominee Nation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff in implementing this restoration project. Tribal environmental specialists and FWS biologists working on the restoration project described the process of river restoration as a unique interface of science and art. First, the river was surveyed to determine flow rates, the structure and composition of the river bottom, existing water quality, and presence of fish species. During the next phase, the contractor used specialized construction equipment that ran on biodegradable vegetable oil to ensure safe use in the water and on the stream banks. The contractor recycled many of the logs removed from the logjam to stabilize the banks and trap sediment to form natural bends in the stream. In addition, the new stream design included boulders placed to create pools and resting areas in the narrowed channel.
Staff from the Menominee Nation and the FWS will continue to monitor the river for the next two years. Among the key attributes they will assess are water temperature and quality, fish species composition, the status of wild rice beds and other wetland vegetation along the stream banks, and physical characteristics of the stream and the bottom of the river.