Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge manager Bob Barrett loves nothing more than to watch thousands of fourthgraders discover the wonders of birds and wetlands.
His goal is to wear out the refuge's 28,000 square- foot environmental education center before he retires. He wants to get youngsters away from electronic gadgets that dominate their time and into the outdoors.
' Americans want to be in touch with these natural resources,' he said. 'They are in our makeup and our tradition. Living in Utah, we are fortunate to see these things firsthand.' Barrett's efforts and work done on the Jordan River Parkway that connects Utah Lake with the Great Salt Lake are getting national recognition.
Those two facilities will represent Utah this week when Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar issues the latest America's Great Outdoors Report. They are among 100 projects nationwide - two in every state - that will be highlighted as part of the initiative started in 2010 by President Barack Obama. They represent what states believe are among the nation's best investments to support a healthy, active population, conserve wildlife and working lands, and crate travel, tourism and outdoor recreation jobs across the country.Barrett served as a facilitator last summer when Obama. They represent what states believe are among the nation's best investments to support a healthy active population, conserve wildlife and working lands, and crate travel, tourism and outdoor recreation jobs across the country.
Barrett served as a facilitator last summer when Salazar held a 'listening session' during the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market conference in Salt Lake City. The standing- room-only crowd of more than 500 people inspired him. 'People are interested in what is going on with our natural resources and how we can get youth involved,' Barrett said. 'It was inspirational for me as a federal employee to see these people so interested in what we do and why.' The Bear River refuge west of Brigham City, one of the nation's oldest, was recognized for hosting more than 10,000 northern Utah fourth- graders every year and offering numerous educational programs. It hosts about 200,000 visitors a year, including citizens of 31 countries last year. The National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation assistance Program is supporting West Jordan City and its partners to focus on planning for the Jordan River Parkway Trail. That project includes a project to enhance the environment that will involve the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Utah Reclamation and Mitigation Conservation Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The parkway is a continuous, nonmotorized 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. They include a total of 3.5 miles of trail in Salt Lake City, West Jordan and Bluffdale to complete the 66-mile corridor.
'It's fantastic to be recognized,' said Laura Hansen, executive director of the Jordan River Commission. 'We have such a bright future. We can preserve more open space and complete more sections of trail. 'We have a long ways to go. As much as has already been accomplished, there are so many more things we can do to enhance it.'