Frequently Asked Questions: Drought 2021-2022

Is the refuge experiencing a drought?  

Yes, as of September 2021 most of New Mexico is experiencing a drought including Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. For more information please visit: Drought Information  

Is there less water on the refuge than in past years? 

Yes, due to drought, there is less water available for the refuge to manage habitat. In order to be most effective with the limited available surface and ground water, the refuge will not flood units that have little to no food value for migrating birds. This includes the very popular Wetland Unit 3 South along the west side of Highway 1 (also called the Wetland Roost). In addition, the limited available water also means that wetlands may have water for shorter periods of time and certain wetlands may be drained during the peak wintering season in order to use the water more effectively in a different wetland.

Where can I go to see the cranes and geese fly-in each evening and fly-out each morning? 

Each year the cranes and geese roost for the night in a number of different wetlands. We never get to see all of them in one place. Since the birds will not be roosting at the Wetland Roost along Highway 1 this winter, we suggest that you look for them in the wetlands along the Tour Loop. A peaceful evening spent watching the birds fly over the wetlands searching for their night roost will also tell you where to return in the morning to see the birds again, before they fly-out in search of food during the day. Unless disturbed during the night, the cranes and geese usually remain in the same wetland until right around dawn. 

Will the cranes, geese and ducks be able to survive with less water on the refuge? 

Yes, birds that migrate through and overwinter here in the MRGV are adapted to these semi-arid/arid conditions and have experienced drought before. They have knowledge of the larger landscape and will adjust to the conditions in place. The refuge will continue to play a large role in their survival by channeling all available water into the units with the highest food productivity.  This will ensure that the cranes, geese and ducks are provided with this critical and limited food resource.

What can I do to help the birds survive the drought? 

Water birds will likely be more concentrated within limited flooded units, therefore much more susceptible to disturbance.  Visitors can help by abiding refuge closed area signage and reporting any violations as they occur.

The Friends of Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge invite you to join them in helping the birds and other wildlife thrive on Bosque del Apache. To learn how you can join their effort please visit: Friends of Bosque del Apache NWR

Being conservative with your own use of water will make more water available for wildlife in the Rio Grande watershed.  For ideas on how you can help conserve water please visit: Conserve Water

Is the refuge doing anything to become more drought resilient? 

Yes, the refuge is actively working to increase drought resiliency by improving water delivery infrastructure and prioritizing which wetlands to deliver the limited water supply to in order to maximize the food available to water birds. The refuge is also working with partners like the Friends of Bosque del Apache NWR, Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, and the Bureau of Reclamation to address water issues.