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Resource Management

Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge landscape view/USFWS

Since its establishment in 1973, management efforts have been devoted to restoring and maintaining natural ecological processes at Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge.

  • Water For Wildlife

    In arid landscapes water can be very important for wildlife.  Refuge management is currently trying to determine the level of this importance on the refuge by monitoring artificial and natural sources of water.  Although the refuge has a few natural sources of water, there are many wells and drinkers that have been maintained since before the refuge was established and the land was ranched.  Through this monitoring study, the refuge will be able to record the wildlife use at drinkers that are maintained and compare to use at natural sources of water.

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  • Wetland Management

    Water management is another important tool used at Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge. To mimic the historic flooding that used to occur naturally, wetlands are flooded for short periods to provide food and habitat for wintering waterfowl as they arrive in the fall.

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  • Rio Grande Riparian Corridor

    The Southwestern willow flycatcher is an endangered species that nests in the Rio Grande riparian corridor and the refuge is working to restore this habitat on the refuge.

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  • Prairie Dog Reintroduction

    The Gunnison’s prairie dog is a keystone grassland species that historically inhibited the refuge.  Due to habitat loss and past eradication efforts, their numbers have declined by over 90% across their range.  Reestablishing a population is another step towards restoring the native biological diversity of the refuge grasslands.

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  • Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery

    The endangered Mexican gray wolf once ranged across the deserts of the southwest until eradicated from the wild in the 1950s.  Today, Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge is home to a remote captive facility designed to foster wild characteristics and behaviors.  Please check in with the visitor center staff to learn more about the Mexican wolf’s life history and the latest news on recovery.

  • Invasive Species Monitoring and Management

    The ultimate goal in preserving Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge's natural ecosystems is restoration.  The refuge places high priority on the monitoring of invasive species and on planting native species in areas where invasive species dominated.

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  • Use of Fire

    Fire management is also an important management tool.  Controlled burns allow refuge staff to enhance wildlife habitat while reducing the possibility of damaging wildfires.  Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge introduced a controlled burn program in 2000 and has burned a total of 4,500 acres on the refuge.  All burns are conducted using plans developed by qualified and experienced fire management professionals. 

    Though smoke from burns is visible from surrounding communities, fire management staff at Sevilleta monitor weather and fuel conditions to ensure that burns achieve the best results with minimum smoke impact on local residents. 

    Combined with mechanical brush reduction, burning benefits the area by opening habitat lost to invasive vegetation and removing potentially hazardous wildfire fuels. The refuge management plans include continuing prescribed burns on established fire units on a rotational basis while adding additional areas that will benefit from fire introduction.

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Page Photo Credits — Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge landscape view/USFWS, Gunnison's prairie dogs/Jeremy Stein ©, All photos courtesy of USFWS unless otherwise noted.
Last Updated: Sep 25, 2012
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