It was pretty birdy yesterday morning at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and Black-necked Stilts are every where. In the July Waterbird Survey for the refuge Black-necked Stilts numbers were at 12,452 which made them the most numerous shorebirds on the refuge at the time the survey was completed. Some of the water has been been lowered on the refuge and this young stilt was taking advantage of that by feeding in a section of the Bear River that typically has higher water.
But even while I am taking images of these fascinating birds and enjoying the spectacular scenery I have concerns about the future of Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and the life within it.
The Bear River is extremely important not just for the birds and wildlife on the refuge but also for the health of the Great Salt Lake. I came across this video a few days ago and wanted to share it with all of you who would like to know more about the Great Salt Lake ecosystem and climate change. There is a proposal to dam the Bear River upstream that could cause a negative effect by reducing the flow of water to the refuge and the Great Salt Lake. It has happened before.
The marshes could dry up just like they did in the early 1900’s when large quantities of water were diverted for settlements and farms. By 1920 only a few thousand acres of wetlands remained which seriously affected the survival of migrating birds. In 1928 thousands upon thousands of birds died from avian botulism and when the public took action Congress passed an act that created the Bear River National Wildlife Refuge. Dikes and water control methods were created and the refuge began to flourish once more.
If the Bear River is dammed upstream I have to wonder if we will see history repeating itself but made even worse by climate change, reduced snow pack and rising temperatures and how that will impact the refuge.
I hate to be so glum on a Monday morning but I am concerned.