Rivers as Bridges Makes Cranes a Priority

Media Contact: Kate Fitzwilliams, Marketing/PR Specialist, 608-356-9462 ext. 147

ICF’s Interpretive Programs Manager, Cully Shelton (left), shares the story of ICF’s global conservation work with more than 30 Chinese students through the “Rivers as Bridges” international educational program.

The International Crane Foundation (ICF) was honored to host more than 30 top Chinese high school students as part of the Rivers as Bridges international education program. This summer begins a 10-year relationship between the people of the Mississippi and Yangtze River basins using culture, conservation and commerce as diplomatic tools that support a renewal of the Shanghai Communique between the United States and China in 2022.

During their guided Cranes of the World tour, students learned about ICF’s important connection to rivers and their long-term conservation work at Poyang Lake, the largest lake in the Yangtze River basin. Poyang is the winter home to 400,000 water birds, and provides winter habitat for almost all of the world’s critically endangered Siberian Cranes. The lake basin is threatened by hydrologic changes caused by dams and water diversion projects, as well as declining water quality that could impact the aquatic food plants on which the cranes and other water birds depend.

ICF is collaborating with Poyang Lake Nature Reserve to study the linkages among cranes, aquatic plants, and water levels within the Poyang Lake basin, a long-term study that is providing vital information for evaluating future water development projects and lake management issues.

Rivers as Bridges is sponsored by the Environment and Public Health Network for Chinese Students and Scholars, and the Iowa and Wisconsin Departments of Natural Resources, and will focus on scientific procedures in field research, wet labs, and hands-on experiments in natural resources sciences, including study about air, water, biology, soil, fisheries, wildlife and wetlands.