Urban Waters Federal Partnership—Middle Rio Grande (Albuquerque, N. Mex.)

Science Center Objects

The Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, just 7 miles south of downtown Albuquerque on the Rio Grande, will reconnect people, especially young people, with nature in this highly populated area. The USGS is gathering data that will help gauge the success of habitat restoration efforts.

Examples of monitoring equipment used at Valle de Oro NWR

(Left to right) Rio Grande stream gage, staff gage, and weather gage at Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge.

The Valle de Oro is the Southwest’s first Urban National Wildlife Refuge. Irrigated fescue and alfalfa farm fields are being restored to diverse floodplain habitats, including seasonal wetlands, bosque, grasslands, and upland habitats.

USGS table at Valle de Oro Build Your Refuge Day, 2018

USGS New Mexico Water Science Center employees, Christina Bryant and Alanna Jornigan, at the Valle de Oro Build Your Refuge Day on September 29, 2018.

To help gauge the success of habitat restoration, the USGS is collecting data on the quality of surface water and groundwater at the refuge prior to restoration activities.  Data collection will continue during the restoration. Establishing baseline for pre-restoration water quality and comparing it to water quality post-restoration will allow evaluation of the effects of habitat restoration activities on surface-water and groundwater quality.

Similar baseline data collection by the USGS also is ongoing at the Albuquerque South Valley Community Commons’ McEwen Pond, where the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps is partnering with First Choice Community Healthcare, Bernalillo County, Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, and the Environmental Protection Agency to help build an urban ecosystem in the South Valley and revitalize a 4-acre lot near McEwen Pond.

After 3 years of data collection at the two sites, the project will be assessed to determine if and what data collection will continue, or if interpretive work is needed.

The USGS is participating in various community outreach events, such as the Build Your Own Refuge Day, and supplying education materials for kiosks in the planned Visitors Center.

The project is being carried out in cooperation with the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority, Bernalillo County, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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Stakeholder Quote

The data collected on the refuge helps inform management decisions on restoration of Middle Rio Grande Habitats and education and community engagement programs throughout Albuquerque’s South Valley.
     — Jennifer Owen-White, Refuge Manager, Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge  

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More about other Urban Waters Federal Partnership projects