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Roadrunner, New Mexico's State bird/USFWSBitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge supports surrounding communities in many ways, including fire prevention efforts and nature tourism opportunities.

Wildfires:
As America’s population increases, cities and suburbs are expanding into what was once undeveloped and rural lands.  This area where development comes into close proximity with undeveloped or wildland areas is called the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI.)  Development within the WUI can lead to the increased risk to life and property by wildfire.  The Fire Management program at Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge has helped mitigate these risks by first identifying those areas on or adjacent to refuge lands that could be threatened by wildland fire, then implementing further mitigation efforts such as wildland fire prevention and awareness education, Firewise education, and fuels reduction projects such as thinning and prescribed burning.  Through the use of these strategies, the staff at Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge has helped lessen the impact of wildland fire within the WUI.

Helpful Links: 
New Mexico State Forestry Division Fire Prevention and Outreach Program 

Nature Tourism:
The refuge offers some of the best opportunities to see and enjoy amazing views and southeastern New Mexico, Pecos Valley wildlife.  Visitors from across the United States and several foreign countries come here  to see the large migrating flocks of waterfowl, including the sandhill crane and snow goose.  Others enjoy the many nature trails and scenic views. Many of these visitors stop in nearby communities to fill their tanks with gasoline or eat a good meal and some stay in nearby hotels.  The refuge promotes surrounding communities and encourages visitors to enjoy the many services and opportunities offered nearby.
 
Economic Impact:
Wildlife watching is one of the most popular types of outdoor recreation in the United States with nearly one third of the population enjoying watching, feeding, or photographing wildlife. These nature enthusiasts have a significant impact on the nation’s and state’s economies.  

Home Values:
A national study conducted in 2012 shows that owning a home near a national wildlife refuge increases home values and helps support the surrounding community’s tax base.  According to the study, homes located within half a mile of a refuge and within eight miles of an urban center were found to have higher home values.  This report is the first national study to analyze national wildlife refuges’ impact on land values.

Helpful Links:
City of Roswell Chamber of Commerce
U.S.D.A. National Forest Service
U.S.D.I. National Park Service
U.S.D.I. Bureau of Land Management 

Page Photo Credits — Roadrunner, New Mexico's State bird/USFWS, Dragonfly species / USFWS, All photos courtesy of USFWS unless otherwise noted.
Last Updated: Aug 13, 2012
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