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People power continues to restore valuable reaches of the Rio Grande ecosystem for birds and people

Volunteers plant 800 trees in less than two hours on a rainy morning at Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge

The weather forecast called for wind and rain, which threatened to make Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge muddy and unpleasant for the scheduled tree-planting event with Audubon New Mexico volunteers. Even so, community members from Socorro, Albuquerque, and everywhere in-between left their warm beds, pulled on rain gear, and headed into the elements to plant cottonwood and willow trees along the Rio Grande. Over 30 volunteers planted 800 trees in less than two hours creating valuable habitat for the federally endangered Southwestern Willow-Flycatcher and other migratory species that depend on riparian ecosystems for nesting and forage.

The Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, located 50 minutes south of Albuquerque in La Joya, has restored the river-floodplain connection and riparian habitat by clearing non-native tamarisk and engineering backwater areas to promote seasonal flooding. This benefits birds, fish, and other wildlife that are threatened by drought, climate change, and development. Refuge staff are committed to stewarding our public lands, but they are not able to do it alone. This is where people power comes into play – through collective efforts like volunteer habitat restoration events we come together as a community and accomplish more in one day than what a few people can do in many months. Moreover, we develop a strong base of grassroots environment stewards ready to take action to protect and restore natural landscapes throughout New Mexico.

Thank you to Refuge staff and all who attended. If you have not already, please subscribe to Audubon New Mexico’s email list to hear about the next event!

Photo: By Paul Tashjian
Photo: Paul Tashjian

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