An Introduction Into the Valle de Oro 

Collette Wilson, contributor

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by Collette Wilson, class of 2020

If you’ve been at nex+Gen for at least a year, you’ve probably heard whispers spoken among the seniors about the Valle de Oro. And if you’re new to nex+Gen, it won’t take long until you hear the class of 2020 mention the Valle. Now, whether or not you have heard the seniors talk about the Valle or not, you may be wondering “What is this Valle de Oro?” Well, here’s a breakdown of what the Valle de Oro is, what their goal is, and why the seniors are talking about it.

 

The Valle de Oro is a National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and it’s managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. It’s located in the South Valley, 7 miles south of Albuquerque. The Valle used to be a dairy farm owned by Dudley Price and was called Valley Gold Dairy Farm. In 2011, it was closed down and in 2012, the 570 acre of land was eventually purchased by the Fish and Wildlife Service and made into a refuge. If you’re like me and wasn’t aware that New Mexico had a NWR, you’ll be surprised to know that New Mexico has several NWRs, including the Bosque Del Apache located inSan Antonio, New Mexico and the Ladd S Gordon Waterfowl Complex located in Socorro County. 

 

You may be wondering what a NWR is and what it does. NWR are certain areas of land in the United States that are protected from any harm. NWRs strive to conserve America’s wildlife. NWR want to help educate people about the environment and show them the importance of protecting wildlife for future generations. Some refuges, like the Valle, try to rebuild the land to make them more suitable for native plants and animals. As stated above, the Valle used to be a farm and many plants, like alfalfa, which aren’t native to New Mexico. They are known as invasive species and can cause harm to the ecosystem and disrupt the survival of native species. The Valle hopes to rebuild the land so native wildlife can flourish without intrusion from invasive species. 

 

How do the seniors know so much about the Valle de Oro? As a senior, one of the projects you will be doing in Eco-Biology is volunteering and collecting data at the Valle de Oro. After visiting the Valle de Oro, you will choose one area of expertise you want to work on. Such areas include the Small Mammals group, which collects data on the variety of small animals that live at the Valle. The Night Sky group collects readings of the amount of light in the night sky at Valle de Oro. There are many other groups all pertaining to collecting and analyzing data. The seniors of nex+Gen do this because all of this data tells us how if the ecosystems at the Valle are healthy or not. A healthy ecosystem will have a variety of plants and animals, good physical composition of soils, etc. The data that is collected by the senior team of nex+Gen Academy is sent to the rangers at the Valle de Oro so they can use it to improve the Valle’s ecosystem. nex+Gen seniors have been doing research at the Valle for years and the data the class of 2020 is collecting will allow the rangers to compare the data from the past years. This will allow them to see if any progress on restoration has been made on the land and what further work needs to be done.   

 

The Valle de Oro, like all NWRs, wants to protect an area of land that holds so much life and inform the public about the importance of protecting nature all around the world. As seniors, we have an amazing opportunity to help make sure the Valle is and continues to be a healthy ecosystem.