Monday, June 16, 2008

Desert Destination: Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge

Every Monday we'll take a trip to the desert to help ease the transition into the work week and perhaps give you ideas of places to go.

Today we'll head to Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge located in western Utah. This place is so remote that the refuge personnel have to drive an hour to pick up the mail. An hour on gravel roads. An hour with no house on the way. An hour that if you break down could turn into many hours or even days due to the lack of traffic.

Now that I may have scared you (at least my city relatives and friends), let me tell you that the adventure into the remote desert is well worth it. Fish Springs is an oasis, with five major springs putting forth about 22 cubic second feet (cfs) of water. That water supports nearly 10,000 acres of marshes, and the birds know where to find them, arriving in stunning numbers during migrations. Even during the middle of summer it's surprising how many birds are taking advantage of the cool spot in the desert. 

The entrance sign is quite obvious. It's the only big sign along the gravel road for at least 50 miles.
From the gravel road, it's not apparent what Fish Springs is. So take the time to enter the refuge and take the self-guided auto tour, which follows along dikes that separate the different pools and marshes. 
Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge was created in 1959. Before that, the area was used as hunting grounds, a supply stop for the Pony Express and Lincoln Highway, a ranch, and to raise bullfrogs and muskrats. During the height of the Lincoln Highway in the early 1920s, more people traveled near Fish Springs than do today. 
The American White Pelican is a common sight in spring and summer. An American Avocet lends some color to the water. The springs and ponds also support native fish like the least chub.
A Black-necked Stilt is well equipped to find insects in the tall grasses and mud.
This sign explains some of the shorebirds seen in Fish Springs. From the looks of the white streaks on the sign, some of those birds should be called signbirds.
So pack your hat and water and a couple spare tires and head out into the desert to Fish Springs. It's worth the trip. For more information check out http://www.fws.gov/fishsprings/

1 comment:

Sylvia said...

Wow! I'm making that my next destination. Love the birds and the water! Gotta go see...

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