National Wildlife Refuge
|P.O. Box 189
Cokeville, WY 83114
Phone Number: 307-279-2800
|Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
|The American bittern is well-known both for its camouflaged feathering and its unique oonk-a-lunk call.|
Continued . . . Wildlife resources likely drew many cultures into the Bear River valley. With study, archeological sites may be found which could provide important details about the area's past.
Early exploration of the region began in the early 1800s; fur-trapping was an important activity between 1824 and 1840. Between 1840 and 1869, many emigrants moved through the area on the Oregon Trail. True settlement of the Bear River valley did not begin until after the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869. An eastward influx of Mormon settlers from the Salt Lake area established ranching in the valley.
The wetlands associated with the Bear River are both natural and human made. The natural wetlands flood with high water events following spring snow melt. Many of the wetlands that persist after run-off are the result of irrigation systems built in the 1930s and 1940s. Two primary diversion dams in the Bear River irrigate vast areas, supporting meadow hay. The hay is then cut by ranchers in August and grazed in the fall and winter. This management regime created and maintained much of the habitat that can be seen in the valley today.
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