Western Willow Flycatcher habitat was improved last Saturday at the Sevilleta Wildlife Refuge as 22 volunteers with the New Mexico Volunteers for the Outdoors helped by cutting and trimming willows, then planting them in holes that were augered down to the water table.
Satisfying work on a calm, clear February day. Flocks of snow geese headed south to the Bosque del Apache refuge as we worked on the willow prep. under the budding old growth cottonwoods along the Rio Grande. Cutting all but the very top branches off the willow rods helps the willow roots get a good start. By May they will be leafed out and growing into their first season in their new spot along the river. These Gooding’s willows will grow much taller than the ubiquitous Coyote Willow, and when filled out with new branches in a few years, provide good habitat, along with the Cottonwoods, for the endangered Western Willow Flycatcher.
The refuge manager, Kathy Granillo, also voiced her concern for wildlife pathways throughout the state of NM, and recognizes the importance of wildlife connectivity between all the refuge lands. Even though Sevilleta is the largest refuge, 200,000 + acres, it still depends on connectivity with surrounding lands to stay healthy.
As we like to say at Pathways, “Life is a moving thing!”
Read an article here : NewsDaily: APNewsBreak: Western governors show wildlife maps. about the Western Governor’s Association rollout of the wildlife mapping that has been underway for the past 3 years.
Pathways has not contributed to this effort directly, it was too broad scale and general of project. The really fine scale, on the ground, site specific type of research and monitoring that we’re interested in has not been funded on the state-wide scale that really needs to be done. Even a broad state-wide survey of “crucial” wildlife corridors and linkages for our large mammal species like Rocky Mountain Elk, Mule Deer, Mountain Lions, and Black Bears, has not been funded, even though the laws are in place to do so, through RETA :New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority. Funny how the “Authority” didn’t make it from the acronym into the title.
In thinking about how this is a benefit to wildlife, on the one hand, it may seem to be pandering to industry, giving ammunition to those who would destroy, disrupt, fragment, and exploit life to make money while providing some service or “product” to humanity. On the other hand it may seem like a way to bring those very industries to a closer understanding of how they can “produce” without harming the very people they intend to “service”.. (because lets face it, industry has never cared about wildlife, unless forced to, or unless it makes good P.R. And humans care about humans first, right?). So are the maps a benefit to wildlife? In my opinion, having data is good, having a data platform is good, having a data platform that the public can plug into is even better. Like :iNaturalist.org · Pathways
Does massive amounts of data do any good? I think it does when its connected to a massive brain, which can make massively intelligent decisions, with compassion for all the diversity of life. Are we there yet? I don’t think so. Are we on our way? We better be.