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Bear River
Migratory Bird Refuge

American avocets have a rusty-orange heads and necks, black on their wings and back, and white on the remainder of their bodies. They have long, thin, black beaks.
2155 West Forest Street
Brigham City, UT   84302
E-mail: bearriver@fws.gov
Phone Number: 435-723-5887
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Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge is acclaimed as one of the world's 10 best birding areas. Early explorers reported the "sound of distant thunder" as they watched the birds.
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Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge

Historically, the marshes of Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge (MBR) have been an oasis for water birds. This oasis is surrounded by arid desert lands. As a key part of the Great Salt Lake ecosystem, the Refuge provides habitat for more than 200 bird species, making it a popular birding hotspot in northern Utah. In spring, summer, and fall, visitors can view American avocets, black-necked stilts, white-faced ibis, and a host of other species.

Getting There . . .
The Refuge is located approximately 50 miles north of Salt Lake City, Utah. It can be reached from Interstate 15 by taking the Forest Street exit at Brigham City and driving west 13 miles. A new wildlife education center is located along Forest Street just one block west of the Interstate. Begin your refuge experience there!

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Wildlife and Habitat

Bear River MBR is located in the northeast arm of the Great Salt Lake near Brigham City, Utah and encompasses approximately 74,000 acres. The Refuge is the largest freshwater component of the Great Salt Lake ecosystem and encompasses the Bear River delta.

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Prior to European settlement, vast natural marshes covered the Bear River delta, providing an oasis for waterfowl in the midst of the arid Great Basin. Early explorer John C. Fremont witnessed such a large concentration of birds that he wrote in 1843, "The waterfowl made a noise like distant thunder . . . as the whole scene animated with waterfowl."

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    Recreation and Education Opportunities
Environmental Education
Wildlife Observation
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Management Activities
The Refuge serves a vital role in the Bear River delta ecosystem by protecting, creating, and managing more than 41,000 acres of freshwater wetlands. Fresh water from the Bear River is captured in a series of 25 impoundments.

Water levels are manipulated in these wetlands to ensure that adequate amounts of water and subsequent aquatic habitat are available throughout critical life stages of breeding birds like the American avocet, black-necked stilt, snowy plover, as well as migrating birds such as the northern pintail, Wilson's phalarope, and tundra swan. The importance of the Refuge as a staging area for migratory waterfowl is evidenced by the tremendous numbers of ducks (500,000) and Canada geese (5,000) found on the Refuge each fall. In addition, roughly 75 percent of the western population of tundra swans (more than 30,000 birds) use the Refuge for fall staging and wintering in mild years.

In the last several years, the Refuge has purchased additional upland acres to provide habitat for grassland breeding birds. The primary management tool for these habitats is prescribed grazing to achieve vegetation height and density that favors successful nesting attempts.