Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Boondocking and Birding Trails

Backroads Information:  Boondocking on Birding Trails

I started bird watching in my late teens and continue to enjoy it.

The Duck Stamp program started in the 1930's to buy up marshes and manage them for duck hunting.  Hunters and fishermen lobbied Congress to pass the Pittman-Robertson Act in 1937 which levied an 11% tax on all fishing and hunting equipment for management of wildlife species.

This act has resulted in millions of acres of land being purchased and made available for camping and exploring.  These are some of my favorite haunting grounds.  Hunting and fishing have fallen in popularity for the past 50 years, so it is more difficult to find information on many of these sites.  However, in recent years these areas have become popular with bird watchers; and they have started to publish guides on many areas.

These guides are generally called birding trails.   They give a set of directions, descriptions, and amenities offered on these lands.  The have become the "scenic byways guides to wildlife areas"!  They even include some state parks camping information in the guides.  Some of them are free, while others have a small fee associated with them.  Nearly all of them are published by non-profit organizations.

It appears that every state is in the process of completing birding trail guides.  Just do a Google search and use the following format:  STATE NAME birding trail guides.

Almost all guides give specific directions, information on whether camping is allowed and notes on both campgrounds and dispersed areas close by with agency contacts and phone numbers so you can obtain additional information.

Here is the link to the guides in Oregon.  You can download these and use them for exploring.     Oregon Birding Trail Guide Site

They can be used as guided tours to the natural areas of the states.  Drive from site to site and you will get an appreciation of the natural history of these areas and insight about how these areas came to be.   You will find great boondocking locations, fishing, and canoeing or kayaking sites.  Oh yeah, there is also some great birdwatching around!

I spend quite a bit of time bird watching in the fall when I take a special friend out with me.  He POINTS out all the interesting birds in the area.  And in the evening, we have pheasant cooked French style with sauce and wild rice.  All of it washed down with some of the famous Eastern Washington wine.  Red, thank you and the more robust the better.  Give me a couple of weeks of boondocking in October with my shotgun and my bird dog.  It doesn't get any better than that!

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