Assistant Secretary of the Interior Mike Hayden is impressed by the rehabilitation work that has been done at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, but he said much remains to be done.
Hayden toured the refuge Saturday as part of his get-acquainted tour of wildlife refuges and national parks.The second highest bureaucrat in the Department of Interior, Hayden, the former governor of Kansas, oversees U.S. Fish and Wildlife and National Park Services.
The refuge, located in Box Elder County, was virtually destroyed by Great Salt Lake flood waters in 1983. Structures, including the visitor's center which had been remodeled in 1982, were weakened by the flood and eventually toppled by winter ice.
Bear River Refuge Manager Al Trout, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Region 6 associate manager Barney Schranck and the refuge's Keith Hansen drove Hayden around the refuge to point out damage, repairs and plans for restoration.
The refuge restoration is expected to cost $13 million. This includes $9 million to purchase land two miles west of Brigham City for a new visitors center and headquarters. This land will be acquired on a willing seller basis only, but Trout indicated that most landowners involved are interested.
Another $9 million would eventually be sought to purchase some 14,000 acres to expand the refuge.
In 1990, the refuge received $75,000 in federal funds to initiate rehabilitation. In 1991, $1.53 million was appropriated to continue restoration. President Bush's recent budget earmarked $1.7 million for 1992 and $1.25 million for 1993.
Refuge employees hope that Hayden's introduction to the refuge will help in the appropriation of funds. Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, is already a supporter of the refuge plans.
Hayden was impressed by the fact that private cash donations have topped $30,000 and 53 volunteers have contributed more than 16,000 labor hours and tens of thousands of dollars in donated materials and services.
Trout told Hayden that early in the clean-up process the large wooden "Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge" marking the entrance to the refuge was pulled from the river.
Trout, considering the broken sign beyond repair, was about to burn it when refuge volunteers intervened. They refurbished it and set it back up.