Sevilleta celebrates National Wildlife Refuge week

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Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge celebrates National Wildlife Refuge week Oct. 7 through Oct. 13. The SNWR Refuge Day takes place on Saturday, Oct. 13, and there will be many presentations, tours, exhibits and lectures about the refuge for friends and families to enjoy.

Refuge week allows the public to know what the refuge system is all about, said visitor services manager Jeannine Kimble.

“There are over 230,000 acres to explore at SNWR,” she said. “People should come and learn about conservation efforts on displays at the refuge and the visitors center.”

The refuge is currently working on permanent exhibits in the visitor center to bring the outside in. SNWR gets regular visitors who want to learn more about conservation and how the land is protected. The refuge also gives visitors an opportunity to hike trails and explore, Kimble said.

SNWR was established in 1973. The first open house was held in 2003. It was an opportunity for the public to explore the refuge, Kimble said.

Last year, 100 to 200 people attended Refuge Day, and the numbers have remained constant throughout the years, she said. According to Kimble, the Sevilleta is the only refuge that has a Long Term Ecological Research Network site. LTER researches how changes in the environment and climate affect the ecosystem, Kimble said.

To increase visitation at the refuge, Kimble said there will be some new permanent displays at the visitors center. She has been at the refuge for three years and works with volunteers, does educational outreach and also goes to schools to talk to students. She said the refuge has provided new programs and trails for people to learn and explore the unique features of the environment. The tours at the refuge are free and take place on a monthly basis, and people can hike on a trail when they are open. Trails include Wildflower Loop, which is a quarter a mile long, Nature Loop, which is one mile, and Mesa view, which is 3.8 miles.

There are over 251 bird species that migrate from the refuge each season, Kimble said. In the summer, there are more hummingbirds, and in the fall there are geese, ducks and mallards — mostly the waterfowl species, Kimble said. SNWR is also home to a captive breeding facility for Mexican gray wolves.

“There are a lot of events that are going on in the community,” Kimble said. “We want one day for people to explore the refuge and conservation partners and what they do.”

On Refuge Day, registration is required for the tours, with the cost of $10 per person, per tour. Refuge Day’s events include presentations on the Mexican gray wolf and the “Little Dogs on the Prairie.” Tours include Bird Sevilleta, Research Tour and Bernardo Waterfowl Area. All tours start at 8 a.m. The refuge has tours for colleges and works with all education levels to get students out on the refuge, she said. For Refuge Day, students in grades K-5, from schools within Socorro County, entered artwork for the poster contest. All artwork is judged, and ribbons are given out as prizes. This is the first year they are working with K-5 for the poster contest, Kimble said. Next year she wants the refuge to add more grade levels and schools for the art contest.

The money from Refuge Day’s events will go towards the Amigos de la Sevilleta. According to the website, The Amigos de la Seviletta support the refuge in the conservation of wildlife and habitats through environmental education and research. The Amigos De La Seviletta also support the education and transportation grant for Socorro and Valencia County schools for students to go out and see the refuge take part in an education program, Kimble said.

Amigos De La Sevilleta also pays for the field trips. The refuge takes reservations and gets some visitors from out of state, Kimble said. For more information or to see a schedule of Refuge Day’s events, visit www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/newmex/sevilleta/.

“Sevilleta is home to four biomes, there is a diversity of plant and animal life.” Kimble said. “It’s unique. There is a wide range of geological diversity that’s amazing. We want people to enjoy the public land.”