Wildlife Art Trail
Gibbons Creek Wildlife Art Trail is now open on the Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Washington.
The 2.25-mile trail offers visitors the opportunity to view areas previously visible only through special guided tours. The trail includes boardwalks through a willow grove and over a wetland, two scenic overlooks and a 110-foot bridge over Gibbons Creek. The trail passes refuge wetlands, fields, newly planted river banks and the Columbia River.
The trail was first proposed in 1999 as part of the refuge's Comprehensive Conservation Plan. With 2,300 shrubs donated by Georgia Pacific and Vancouver Audubon and partially funded by a National Fish and Wildlife Fund grant, the Columbia Gorge Stewards (the refuge Friends organization) recruited about 200 volunteers in all who put in about 3,000 hours planting six acres.
"They not only planted the trees and shrubs," said refuge system Regional Director Robyn Thorson, "they watered them, which means most of them survived. This has created even better habitat for the birds that use these areas."
The Lower Columbia River Estuary Partnership also gathered school groups and Scouts throughout Portland to plant another 5,000 cuttings after the refuge maintenance crew dug 900 holes in a year when snow and frozen ground lasted well into January.
Thorson also noted that the trail will eventually have interpretative art instead of the usual flat interpretative signs. Local artist Allan Ransenberg will be installing pieces over the summer. "The art trail experience is designed to foster a connection between the visitor and the natural landscape we conserve."
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