Walk on these wild life refuges
Three nature-filled trips that are close to home and far from ordinary
By John Bear
Get out and see some wildlife before it’s all gone. New Mexico is home to seven federal refuges, two of which are fairly close to Albuquerque. Visit fws.gov/southwest/refuges/nmrefuges.html for a full list of federal preserves in New Mexico.
Bosque del Apache
Named “Woods of the Apache” by the Spanish conquistadors, who saw Apaches camp out in the area. The real fireworks are in the fall through the winter, when thousands upon thousands of sandhill cranes and geese migrate to the area, coming in at dawn and dusk. Take I-25 south to San Antonio exit 139, then U.S. 380 east for half a mile, then State Hwy. 1 south eight miles to the refuge.
Located in the Chihuahuan Desert north of Socorro. It’s mostly used as a research area and is closed to the public most of the time. There are, however, special tours available and some hunting is permitted. The refuge is supposed to open up to more public outings soon. For more information, call (505) 248-6911. Take Exit 169 off I-25 south. The entrance road to the refuge headquarters is on the west side of I-25.
It’s not really a wildlife refuge, and it’s on private property owned by the Valencia Fair Association. A source of local controversy, the fair wants to turn the wetland into a parking lot, while local conservationists want it preserved. It’s a good spot to observe shorebirds like egrets, stilts, avocets and ibis. There are burrow owls nearby, too. Take I-25 south to the the first Belen exit, then the I-25 bypass to Don Felipe road. Turn right and the place is to your immediate left. It’s best to go in the morning or evening, as the birds seem to go off to do bird stuff during the day. The marsh is on private property, so you should probably stay on the road.
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