National Rivers Project Lists National Wildlife Refuge Paddling Trails

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Want to paddle one of the country’s 18 national wildlife refuges and 103 official water trails?

It’s easier than ever now, thanks to the National Rivers Project(NRP), an interactive map and online database which helps to identify, explore and plan river trips.

Dozens of popular paddling destinations along National Wildlife Refuge Water Trails were recently added to database, which now includes 18 National Wildlife Refuges and features 103 water trails and 50 access points managed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

“This project enables more people to appreciate their National Wildlife Refuges and enjoy wildlife observation and photography, fishing or just relaxing, from a different point of view,” says USFWS National Wilderness coordinator Nancy Roeper. “Thanks to our partner, RMS, information about water trails and a number of popular paddling destinations in the National Wildlife Refuge System are now part of the NRP. Paddling is frequently the best way to see wildlife, and after all, the mission of the Refuge System focuses on conserving the nation’s fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats.”

A wilderness canoeist and fisherman explores the Swanson River in the Kenai, AK, wilderness. Photo by Steve Hillebrand.

NRP is a project of the River Management Society(RMS), a nonprofit whose mission is to support professionals who study, protect and manage North America’s rivers. RMS partnered with Roeper and USFWS Chief Cartographer Ron Salz to inventory and add various Wildlife Refuges and associated water bodies to the database, which are listed as water trails and popular paddling destinations.

Roeper hopes that including these rivers, lakes, bays and coastlines in the NRP will allow for equitable access to information for paddlers across a variety of geographies and skill levels.

One of the benefits of exploring these trails by paddlecraft is that it provides an unparalleled close-up view of nature. From freshwater tidal marshes to scenic estuarine habitat, cypress swamps and floating peat mats, paddling trails in the Refuge System can provide glimpses of great blue heron rookeries, manatees, roseate spoonbills, muskrats, egrets, sandhill cranes, alligators, warblers, bald eagles, kingfishers, river otters, pond turtles, hawks, carnivorous plants and more.

The USFWS segments added correlate with the information on the USFWS water trails website. The data was created by studying static and interactive maps on refuge websites, gleaning public GIS data on refuge amenities, researching waterbodies and access points through other websites and publications, and seeking feedback on data from refuge managers.

“We’re grateful to have developed this partnership, curating information for water trails on National Wildlife Refuges across the country,” says James Major, NRP Coordinator. Many of refuges offer access to educational and inspiring waterways and we are proud to have developed this new way to help the public discover them, and to help refuge managers share their location in context of other regional river resources.”

 About the NRP: The National River Recreation Database (NRRD) is a geospatial portfolio of information for Wild and Scenic Rivers, water trails, whitewater rivers, access points and campgrounds. It supports the National Rivers Project website, which provides river recreation and management information for paddlers and resource managers. The NRP has been developed with financial support from federal river-administering agencies (National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) and the National Park Foundation. In addition, many state programs, non-profit organizations and individuals have contributed in-kind by contributing and maintaining accurate river data.

Explore the rivers at www.nationalriversproject.com. Additions and revisions to the database are always welcome! Learn more about RMS and join today by visiting www.river-management.org.

Related National Rivers Project Stories:

National Rivers Project Details Info on Wild & Scenic Rivers

 

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