By John Larson and Rebecca Rose
Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge will host their annual “Refuge Day” this Saturday, Oct. 16. The open house event features guided tours of the refuge, educational exhibits, activities for children and presentations with live animals.
Jeannine Kimble, Park Ranger with Sevilleta, said this year there are some changes. “Open House was done for about 10-12 years. It was done in conjuction with La Joya, to bring people to Sevilletta. This year we are calling it “Refuge Day”. There is no separate open house at La Joya this year.
Located just north of Socorro, Sevilleta is home to a rich and diverse ecosystem, reserved primarily for research. Much of the refuge is closed to the general public for recreational use. But once a year, the park hosts a unique open house event, a chance for visitors to learn about the park’s unique habitat and wildlife.
The event includes special guided tours, hosted by conservation and wildlife experts, who are available to give their special insight during presentations on the refuge.
Kimble said the goal is to get people to the refuge to learn more about it. “Our main purpose is to educate people on the national wildlife refuge system.”, The event coincides with U.S. Fish and Game’s annual “Wildlife Refuge Awareness Week”, which seeks to inform the public at large about refuges. “There are 150 across the United States. We want people to know we are here and what we offer. And they can explore the refuge, too.” said Kimble.
According to Kimble, the event is ideal for families and children. “This is a family friendly event. We have many activities for kids, and things that are geared for the whole family.” Events include a wildlife ID and tracking activity, , snake consever society. 2 mile trails that families can go explore.
“The best part of this day is seeing the diversity of Sevilleta,” said Kimble. “We have over 240,000 acres here, and seven different biomes. It’s a great opportunity to learn what goes on behind the scenes at Sevilletta.
The land that makes up the Sevilleta refuge has a long history. A Spanish military outpost in the 1500s and a cattle ranch in the early 1900s, the land was converted to a wildlife refuge in the 1960s by the family that owned it. The Campbell family established a foundation to maintain the land as a natural ecosystem. The Foundation allowed for portions of the land to be used for educational and research purposes as well. In 1973, the land was donated to the Nature Conservancy, which transferred the land to US Fish & Wildlife Service. The Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge was established shortly thereafter, and has been a prominent part of Socorro County ever since.
Registration for “Refuge Day” is required, at a cost of $10.00 per person. Spots on all of the tours are limited, so reservations are strongly suggested. Visitors can register online at http://www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/newmex/sevilleta/ or by calling 505-864-4021.
“Come prepared to have fun and learn about the refuge system.” said Kimble.