As part of my internship with Environment for the Americas, I have been working in partnership with the US Fish and Wildlife Service in multiple projects. One of those projects is working as an interpretive kayak trip guide at two of their properties: Siletz River and Nestucca River National Wildlife Refuge. Last week we had to say good bye to the Nestucca river as that was the last time we were going to implement programs in that area. The river gave us its farewells by awarding us with calm waters, a bald eagle sighting, and a pleasant sunset for the culmination of this evening paddling.
A brief history of the Nestucca National Wildlife Refuge: it was established in 1991 with the objective of providing suitable pastures and wintering habitat for dusky Canada Geese and Aleutian Cackling Geese. Those are the two focal species behind most restoration and preservation projects; however the refuge also provides suitable habitat for migrating shorebirds as well as healthy waters for species of fish such as steelhead, Coho and Chinook salmon .
Kayaking on the waters of this river was a unique experience and to think that the driving force behind preserving this area was providing habitat for migratory species of birds gives a worthier meaning. This is a good example of how birds function as indicators of good ecosystem health. Conditions that provide a suitable place for the birds to winter is an indication that other aspects of the ecosystem are working efficiently and as consequence this area is able to grant a home to other species of living creatures.
 National Wildlife Refuge System. Nesstuca Bay National Wildlife Refuge. http://www.fws.gov/oregoncoast/nestuccabay/index.htm