This first NM Volunteers for the Outdoors (NMVFO) “trail” project of 2019 was cancelled due to federal government shutdown, then rescheduled when the feds reopened for a few weeks. Kudos to the wildlife refuge staff who scrambled to get holes drilled and find black willows and cottonwoods in time for us volunteers to plant.
John, a staff biologist, explained that we were working on habitat for three threatened species: the silvery minnow, western yellow-billed cuckoo, and willow flycatcher. The flycatchers prefer overlapping diagonal branches very near water (for mosquitoes), so the holes for trees were closer together than in previous willow projects. The silvery minnow prefer to breed in shallows, and the Rio Grande has tended to become a deep narrow channel past Cochiti Dam, so a shallow inlet was dozed to the river near our planting site, and the willows will help hold the bank.
We were joined this Saturday by an Americorp group out of Texas, friendly and diligent workers.
“Build Your Refuge Day” at Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge in Albuquerque’s south valley, was unlike any trail building project I have done before with the NMVFO. Ten volunteers from the group acted as co-trail bosses at five work stations along a section of the Camino Real, to supervise any member of the public that wanted to volunteer an hour of so to help build trail, spreading crusher-fine (gravel). Ed and I headed station 5.