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National Wildlife Refuge

This montage of common scenes at Maxwell NWR include a killdeer's nest with unhatched eggs, a sunset over one of the ponds, a baby killdeer, and a deer looking at the camera.
P.O. Box 276
Maxwell, NM   87728
Phone Number: 575-375-2331
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Common scenes at Maxwell NWR.
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Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge
Located in the high central plains of northeastern New Mexico, Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1965 as a feeding and resting area for migratory birds. Over 350 acres of the Refuge are planted with wheat, corn, barley, and alfalfa to provide food for resident and migratory wildlife. Visitors may see bald and golden eagles, falcons, hawks, sandhill cranes, ducks, white pelicans, burrowing owls, great horned owls, black-tailed prairie dogs, coyotes, mule deer, white-tailed deer, and the occasional elk.

Getting There . . .
Located on Refuge Road, 1.5 miles north of the intersection of Refuge Road and State Road 505, the administrative office is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 am to 4:00 pm.

Public entry into the refuge is available off State Road 445 and State Road 505.

Get Google map and directions to this refuge/WMD from a specified address:

Your full starting address AND town and state OR zip code

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NOTE: When using this feature, you will be leaving the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service domain. We do not control the content or policies of the site you are about to visit. You should always check site policies before providing personal information or reusing content.

These driving directions are provided as a general guide only. No representation is made or warranty given as to their content, road conditions or route usability or expeditiousness. User assumes all risk of use.

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Wildlife and Habitat

The refuge has approximately 2200 acres of both healthy and disturbed short-grass prairie habitat, some of which is in the process of being restored. The environmental conditions in a prairie can be extreme: intense sunlight, drought, late spring snows, and high winds. Up to two-thirds of a prairie plant is contained below ground in its root mass, which helps the plant tolerate these extreme conditions. The roots help the plant take up nutrients and water from the soil. The prairie varies seasonally both in color and height. The dominant species include buffalo grass, blue grama, western wheatgrass, alkali sacaton, and red three-awn. Early in spring the prairie is much shorter with some small wildflowers blooming. The prairie reaches its peak color in July when most plants are blooming. Later in the season, the prairie is dominated by tall grasses, which give the prairie its beautiful fall color of orange, brown, and purple.

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Vastly different concepts of land use and ownership can be seen in the history of Colfax County and northeastern New Mexico. Plains indians hunted, fished, and traded here for centuries but did not own title to the land.

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    Recreation and Education Opportunities
Environmental Education
Wildlife Observation
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Management Activities
A variety of management programs enhance the array of habitats available to wildlife on the refuge. A major portion of refuge management effort is spent controlling at least 8 exotic and invasive plants and pursuing funding to eliminate these threats. Invasive exotic plants, hoary cress and Canada, musk, and bull thistles pose a serious threat to the ability of the refuge to achieve its wildlife and habitat objectives. These alien plants, lacking natural predators and insects to keep them in check, rapidly expand, forming dense forests or thickets which are undesirable to humans and wildlife.

Historically, grassland ecosystems were regulated by many factors. The refuge used a variety of management tools in an attempt to replace these historic large-scale natural disturbances. Using tools including grazing, prescribed burning, mowing, re-seeding of native species, and sometimes herbicide treatments, managers try to give every plant species in the prairie a chance to grow and reproduce successfully. survive.

Providing grain crops for wildlife has been an integral component of the development of Maxwell since its establishment in 1965. Crops are grown and left in the fields for the fall and spring migrations of geese, swans, ducks, and cranes.