In addition to desert bighorn sheep management, numerous other programs are carried out by Refuge staff for habitat improvement and wildlife. Some of the most recent projects on the Refuge are the removal of exotic salt cedar from riparian habitats. Salt cedar is an aggressive invader plant which can dominate and destroy small desert riparian habitats that are critical to wildlife. The removal and destruction of noxious weeds is an ongoing priority for Refuge staff.
Refuge staff have been banding birds since 1995, and documented several new species for the Refuge and White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) as a result. Bird banding data is useful in both research and management projects. Individual identification of birds makes possible studies of dispersal and migration, behavior and social structure, life-span and survival rate, reproductive success, and population growth. (Bird photographs were taken by Refuge Wildlife Biologist, M. Weisenberger.)
Replacement of the wildlife watering unit on Goat Mountain was completed in the spring of 2003. The original unit was put in during the 1960's using military surplus materials. The new unit is plastic with a new metal rain collection system. It is low maintenance with no moving parts or floats to operate and has a 3,200 gallon storage capacity which should maintain water even during drought.
Other refuge projects include a mountain lion study using radio telemetry and a large scale study of desert mule deer and chronic wasting disease in coordination with WSMR, New Mexico Department of Game & Fish (NMDGF), Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the New Mexico Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit. Another research project involves mapping the geologic makeup of springs within the Refuge.
An interagency kiosk is currently being constructed at the San Augustine Pass overlooking the Tularosa Basin. This kiosk will provide information about all the federal land management agencies in the valley. The kiosk is scheduled for completion in 2006.
Refuge staff are able to provide wildlife, conservation and environmental presentations to local area schools and organizations. Please provide our staff at least one month's notice when requesting your specific program needs.
There is much to be learned concerning the San Andres Mountain Range and the plant and wildlife resources within it. The Refuge has been and will continue to be an important factor in the overall effort to protect those unique resources. Because there is restricted access, the lands remain relatively undisturbed. In the future, the Refuge will continue to serve as a natural laboratory in support of research on southwestern flora and fauna, Chihuahuan Desert ecosystems, fire effects (prescribed and natural), and historical/cultural sites. This research will provide the Refuge and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service with the tools necessary to make informed natural resource management decisions in support of the Refuge's purposes and the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System.