The southwest's first national wildlife refuge, Valle de Oro lies just a few miles south of Albuquerque's downtown, in the city's south valley. Once part of a wider agricultural network, a large part of the refuge was once a large dairy farm. Valle de Oro was established to create an urban oasis that will reconnect people to the natural environment.
The refuge opened in 2013. When it is complete, Valle de Oro will be comprised of a total of 570 acres, and it currently stands at 488 acres. Since opening, it has hosted monthly open houses and brought school groups in to learn about conservation and the environment.
Visit the Valle
The Valle is in its planning stages, but open houses for the public occur once a month, and tours can be made by appointment. Special events happen from time to time. Be on the lookout for open houses by signing up for information at their website, or become a Facebook friend to learn what's up at Valle de Oro. Visitors can enjoy wildlife watching, walk nature trails, take wildlife photographs and more.
About the Refuge
Valle de Oro is on the east bank of the Rio Grande. The land is being farmed with alfalfa as the refuge continues to grow, but the irrigation ditches that criss-cross the site attract a wide variety of birds and wildlife. Some of the birds found there include geese, cranes that migrate through in winter, ground-nesting birds, and wading birds such as cattle egrets that enjoy the ditches and fields during irrigation.
The refuge plans to restore native habitats and expand the bosque habitat into its lands. There will also be wetlands expansion and native grasses and brush will be restored to the area. The restoration of the lands will bring back native wildlife, and will eventually provide the public with opportunities for even more wildlife viewing.
The refuge contains the remnants of the old Price's Dairy, which operated in the south valley from the 1920s to the 1990s. An old milking barn and some former staff housing remain on the property. The farm fields which currently contain hay and alfalfa fields will eventually be planted with native grasses and plants to attract wildlife.
A trail that connects the bosque to the Rio Grande is in the works. Evenually, public recreation will be part of what the refuge offers, with a demonstration area for the resotred riparian habitat.
The refuge works in partnership with resource agencies and educational institutions to provide educational opportunities for youth.
The refuge has a volunteer agency, Friends of Valle de Oro, which is currently seeking volunteers.
Visit the Valle de Oro website.