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A Community Comes Together to Build a Sanctuary for Birds, Wildlife, and People

On the ground work with Audubon New Mexico and partners leads to a fulfilling day of service

Early morning on July 28th, staff and event volunteers from Audubon New Mexico and Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge stood ready to welcome participants to one of the first major community planting days on the South Valley refuge.

With the sun not too high in the sky to be unbearable, volunteers began to trickle in – outfitted in custom t-shirts that read, “the future of the Rio Grande depends on you” and ready to get dirty.

Handing out "Year of the Bird" buttons that commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act Photo: Aimee Madsen
Morning Bird Walk at Valle de Oro NWR Photo: Aimee Madsen

Months of planning had gone into the “Restore the Rio Grande Floodplain” volunteer day whose goal was to bring native upland habitat back to an area where the Rio Grande had historically flooded, nourishing a ribbon of biodiverse greenspace in Bernalillo County. Complimentary to this goal was the commitment to engage the community in stewardship of the land through volunteerism and sharing information.

In partnership with Valle de Oro NWR, Friends of Valle de Oro NWR, and Coca-Cola Company Audubon New Mexico was able to accomplish that goal by planting four acres of habitat with 60 community volunteers and partners.

Photo: Aimee Madsen

Read more about the project here.

The day, in true Audubon spirit, began with a bird walk led by Central New Mexico Audubon Society, Albuquerque’s local Audubon chapter. The group observed Barn Swallows and a Northern Harrier that flew overhead.

Slightly under half of the days participants (a delightful mix of long time Audubon state and chapter members, University of New Mexico students, regular refuge visitors, employees of Coca-Cola’s nearby bottling plant, and families with young children) had never been to the refuge before, or gone on a formal birding trip. Most did not already know each other.

Nevertheless, despite that unfamiliarity this group came together to create a sanctuary for birds, wildlife, and themselves – filling in one another’s gaps in knowledge as we went along.

Since the planting day, the seedlings have been drinking up summer monsoon rains and are beginning to establish themselves. Soon visitors will be able to see part of what our day of service accomplished.

Photo: Aimee Madsen

This won’t be the only opportunity help build out Valle de Oro NWR. On September 29, 2018, the refuge will be celebrating its sixth birthday with fun activities, food, and a volunteer powered trail building project.

The yet to be constructed walking trail will run adjacent to our July 28th planting site and will make the refuge more accessible to visitors. Audubon New Mexico will be organizing a group to participate and we encourage our members support their community by attending.

Thank you to all of our volunteers, partners, and friends who support our mission to conserve wildlife for birds and people.

Photo: Aimee Madsen

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Audubon Arizona and Audubon New Mexico have joined forces to become Audubon Southwest.