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SACRAMENTO NWR: All Aboard, Sacramento NWR Has a New Tram
California-Nevada Offices , September 26, 2013
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The new tram allows visitors a 360 degree view of waterfowl on the refuge.
The new tram allows visitors a 360 degree view of waterfowl on the refuge. - Photo Credit: Cindy Sandoval/USFWS
The Sacramento NWR received an electric tram this summer and hopes to utilize it on the auto tour.
The Sacramento NWR received an electric tram this summer and hopes to utilize it on the auto tour. - Photo Credit: Cindy Sandoval/USFWS
View of the seasonal wetlands at Sacramento NWR.
View of the seasonal wetlands at Sacramento NWR. - Photo Credit: Cindy Sandoval/USFWS

By Cindy Sandoval

During the summer of 2013, the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) added an electric tram to its fleet. The tram was donated to the refuge from the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge to be utilized in a transportation study. The new tram, which seats six, gives visitors a unique view of the refuge auto tour as they listen to bird calls, have dragonflies darting around them and have their questions answered by staff or volunteers driving the tram.

The Sacramento NWR auto tour is a six-mile gravel road that begins at the visitor center. The road passes through seasonal marshes and riparian areas that are the seasonal home to over a million birds. A drive on the auto tour provides visitors with a glimpse at thousands of northern pintails, snow geese, mallards, grebes, and herons. Visitors are required to stay in their vehicle for the majority of the drive to protect the resting winter migrants from disturbance. However, there are three stop-and-stretch areas where guests are able to get out of their car to take in the sights and sounds of the wildlife.

With the new tram, people no longer have to wait for a park and stretch area to hear waterfowl calls and feel the wind in their hair. The almost noiseless tram has less of an impact on the refuge’s wildlife too. “On the tram early in the season, visitors will see more birds, because they are often scared away from vehicle noise” said Sacramento NWR Visitor Services Manager Lora Haller. Haller, along with other staff members and volunteers, welcomes the idea of a new tool to lessen the carbon output of the tour, decrease bird disturbance and allow greater interaction with visitors.

“Last week I was taking a family from Sweden around on the tram, and I got to tell them a about the refuge and identify some species, like a raccoon, that they had never seen before” added volunteer A.J. Valderama as she plugged the tram in for the night. From one overnight charge, the tram can make about six trips around the auto tour.

Haller plans to use the tram on busy days and for special events, like National Wildlife Refuge Week, to give new and returning visitors a 360 degree view of wintering waterfowl. Riders have their hands free to snap photos from all sides of the tram as knowledgeable birders drive them around. Visitors riding the tram will want to bring sunscreen, water, and a camera as they enjoy the zero emissions ride around one of the most important wintering stops along the Pacific Flyway.

Cindy Sandoval is a Pathways intern in external affairs at the Pacific Southwest Regional Office in Sacramento, Calif.


Contact Info: Cynthia Sandoval, 916-978-6159, cynthia_d_sandoval@fws.gov



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