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Archive for Sunday, October 31, 2004

Briefly

October 31, 2004

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Archives exhibit offers background on items

Washington, D.C. -- A new permanent exhibit at the National Archives called "Public Vaults" is designed to help visitors step back into history and go behind the scenes to explore the documents, photographs, maps, films, recordings and other objects in the archives' collection.

Nearly a million people visit the archives each year to see the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Behind the walls where these charters are displayed are billions of records that trace American history in smaller yet significant ways. Visitors to the new exhibit will be able to sample some of the items from behind this wall as they listen in on the deliberations of presidents dealing with crises, examine now-declassified top-secret documents and even read a teenager's plea to keep Elvis Presley out of the Army in a "Dear Uncle Sam" collection of letters citizens wrote to the government.

The building is on Constitution Avenue, between Seventh and Ninth Streets NW, and is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily.

Minnesota prairie named newest wildlife refuge

St. Paul, Minn. -- A 35,000-acre tallgrass prairie and wetland area near Crookston has been designated the country's newest national wildlife refuge by U.S. Interior Secretary Gale Norton.

Eventually, the Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge is expected to become a major breeding ground for prairie chickens, sandhill cranes and other wildlife, as well as a natural garden for the endangered western prairie fringed orchid.

The nation's 545th "refuge" designation comes after a four-year review of the proposal; it links 12 existing conservation areas.

Refuges are a national network of lands managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to conserve, manage and restore wildlife. Hunting, fishing and other activities are allowed on wildlife refuges.

Most of the land -- about 24,000 acres -- is owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy. The organization is donating about 2,000 acres to the Fish and Wildlife Service now and will donate or sell the rest of the land to the federal government during the next decade.

During the last 30 years, much of the refuge area has been drained or converted to agriculture. One of the goals of the project is to restore 12,000 acres of wetlands and 14,000 acres of tallgrass prairie.

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