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Natural Areas of North Dakota


The celebration of our state's 100th birthday is drawing near. In 1989, many people from within and outside North Dakota will be dusting off old pictures, visiting forgotten homesteads, watching plays and celebrations and generally saluting our pioneer ancestors who helped establish this state's great heritage.

This special edition of North Dakota OUTDOORS provides you a different means of celebrating our 100th birthday. It shows you how to explore the beauty and joys of our natural heritage. This issue highlights natural areas - those places of our landscape which have essentially remained in the pristine condition of the settlers' era.

When you visit these areas, put yourself in the shoes of early explorers and pioneers. Imagine the challenges they faced, and the beauty and wonder they encountered as they crossed great prairie vistas, moved along ribbons of riverine forests and climbed badland buttes.

The areas featured in this issue are in public or quasi-public ownership and are managed by state and federal agencies or public-spirited organizations. Some sites, such as Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge were established over 75 years ago, and some, such as John E. Williams Nature Preserve, were only recently established. All were set aside because they contained special features that exemplify North Dakota's great natural heritage. You are invited to visit them all.

Natural areas can serve you, the public, in many ways. Nature lovers, bird watchers, sightseers, hikers, and hunters utilize these areas for public enjoyment. Educators can use them as outdoor classrooms, and scientists as outdoor laboratories. The future value to humanity is unknown and untapped. As we rely more and more on natural products for medicines and pest controls, we may find the plants and animals in these outdoor laboratories harbor cures for diseases or biological controls for agricultural pests yet unknown.

Natural areas were spared the plow and saw, and were protected for the first 100 years of our statehood. As good stewards of our public lands, let's insure they are protected for the next 100 years. When our state reaches its bicentennial, our grandchildren and great-grandchildren should laud our efforts to protect their natural heritage.

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