Sevilleta Willows 2019

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.

planting willows at Sevilleta

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.

willow planting

We were joined this Saturday by an Americorp group out of Texas, friendly and diligent workers.

Americorp group

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Sevilleta Willows 2018

The NMVFO New Mexico Volunteers For the Outdoors held their first project of 2018, planting willows near the bosque for habitat restoration at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge south of Albuquerque.

We planted several hundred no-root willow poles in deep holes, already drilled with an auger. Last year our group completed a similar willow planting nearby.

The biggest challenge was breaking up sticky clay clumps into smaller pieces and tamping down the dirt in the hole to prevent large air voids that might interfere with root development.