It is 230,000 acres (No, that is not a typo!) of Incredible and we have the privilege of living here all winter.
We have to say that we have grown a little disheartened with the recreational side of volunteering. It is becoming more and more obvious to us that catering toward human traffic and ‘recreational pursuits’ is having an increasingly negative impact on wildlife and the environment. Since we were not interested in stopping our volunteer activities it only seemed fitting that we make a move to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service side of things. It has been about three weeks and so far we can say without a doubt that it was a good shift for us at this point in time.
Sevilleta is unique and is set apart from other national wildlife refuges across the country in that its mission is to preserve and enhance the integrity and natural character of the ecosystems of the refuge. In basic terms: close to 90% of the refuge property is off limits to the public. This is not your typical visitor-oriented refuge. Sevilleta is also the only National Wildlife Refuge with a LTER (Long Term Ecological Research) facility on site. Additionally, this refuge is host to a prairie dog reintroduction program, houses a remote breeding facility for the endangered Mexican Gray Wolf and has created a special habitat to focus on increasing the numbers of the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher (a state and federally-listed endangered subspecies of the willow flycatcher).
Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge is unique in that four major biomes intersect within its boundaries: the Colorado Plateau Shrub Steppe, the Great Plains Short Grass Prairie, the Chihuahuan Desert, and the Pinyon-Juniper Woodland. The Rio Grande also cuts its way through the refuge providing an oasis for a wide variety of native species and some not so native (but very cool) species such as Oryx and Barbary Sheep.
There’s more - oh, so much more! But we are exhausted. In a good way. We have gone, done and learned so much more in the last three weeks than we have in a very long while and it has us nearly comatose by the end of the day. The photos are piling up by the hundreds and we will start putting them out there as frequently as we can.
Meanwhile, chew on our sunset from a few nights ago.
“Once I saw a chimpanzee gaze at a particularly beautiful sunset for a full 15 minutes, watching the changing colors [and then] retire to the forest without picking a pawpaw for supper.” - Adriaan Kortlandt