By Rebecca Rose
SOCORRO - The Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge will host a local ham radio operators on Friday Oct. 15 and Saturday, Oct. 16. The public will have a chance to participate in radio broadcasts with operators from around the world.
The Socorro Amateur Radio Association (SARA) will host the event at Bosque, originating their broadcast from a mobile unit in the park. SARA operators will demonstrate “CQ” calls (which means “Any station, please call me”), an open invitation for ham radio operators worldwide to join in on an open dialog about Bosque and wildlife it houses. Loud speakers will broadcast the conversations throughout the day, and visitors will get a chance to join in the discussions.
Jim Lommen, treasurer of SARA, said the purpose of the event is education. “We try to promote the amateur radio to wildlife enthusiasts, and we promote the refuge to the hams. We talk about it and encourage them to visit.”
According to Lommen, the event has grown since its original inception. “Five years ago, a radio operator set up a demonstration in a park in Wisconsin during National Wildlife Refuge Awareness Week. Now, 10-12 refuges put a station on the air during NWR Week.”
Joining the event will be several Cottonwood Valley Charter School students, who received training from SARA members and got their ham operators license last summer. Lommen said there is growing interest in amateur radio, a hobby that has a strong following in Socorro. “There was a class that John Spargo held at the school last year, and three students got their entry level license. Two are back this year to get certified at the next level, plus he has three new entry level students.”
The Socorro Amateur Radio Association, which was originated in the 1970s, features a thriving membership of avid radio enthusiasts in the region. It is available and assist search and rescue operations and other disasters.
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge was created by President Franlin D. Roosevelt in 1939, as a sanctuary for migratory waterfowl, including Sandhill Cranes, some 10,000 of which now call the park home. The park hosts up to 160,000 visitors each year throughout its 90-square-miles.