The Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, 57,191 acres of Rio Grande flood plains, became our destination for a day. The marshes, fields, and woodlands are intensely managed to provide habitat for a wide range of species. Management includes the removal of non native plants and replanting with native plants (you just know how much I love this!), as well as mechanical controls for managing pond water levels, just like when the Rio Grande River ran wild, mimicking natural flooding cycles.
In the 1930's the Civilian Conservation Corps began work to restore the Bosque del Apache flood plains and in 1939 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt establishd the refuge as part of a national system of lands dedicated to wildlife protection.
We were too late in the season to see the Sandhill Cranes, but found the refuge a wonderful place to visit nevertheless. We spotted blue heron and hawks; tortoises basking in the sun on floating logs; and roadrunners, including one who entertained us for quite some time, right outside Thistle's windows, as we ate lunch. Along the reserve's driving route several more roadrunners did what roadrunners do, ran across the road. There were geese and ducks and deer in abundance, but no cranes.
Naturally, we had our bird book handy (thank you Anne)...
"There is a delight in the hardy life of the open. There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness that can reveal its mystery, it's melancholy and its charm. The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value. Conservation means development as much as it does protection."
~ Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States