Fall in Albuquerque Fall in Albuquerque
21 February 2023

Fall in Albuquerque

Written by: Annika Benedetti

It’s crazy how time flies when you’re having fun. Fall is finally here; the weather is getting colder again, and the sun is setting earlier which (at least to me) is better than melting every day in summer when its 103 F out! I can’t believe it’s almost been a year since I started this position and I have learned a great deal about the National Wildlife Refuge System and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Over the past few months, we have taken steps to reach out to managers of the refuges we have worked on to talk about the oil and gas wells we have detected with our deep learning programs. These meetings have been very exciting and interesting, the managers have such a wealth of ecological and historical knowledge about their refuges. Just like each refuge, the needs of the manager are unique from one other. Since I spend 99% of my time working in the Regional Office with some fancy computer equipment and high-speed processing programs, it’s easy to forget that not every refuge and biologists has the logistical and technical capabilities and knowledge that we have. Some of these places are in very remote locations in heavily forested areas or on islands. So, we have had to adapt and expand the types of products we send out. In addition, I learned that not all land managed by USFWS is owned by it too. For example, one of the refuges in Texas I have been personally working on to find wells on is actually owned by a local hunting club so habitat remediation would have to been run by them first. Before working for the Service, I thought the government had complete control of their lands like the National Parks, Forests, and Refuges. In addition, I learned that not all refuges are open to the public, allowing habitats and their fauna to be as undisturbed from human presence and development as possible. As the process of reporting our findings continue, I am looking forward to connecting with more NWR managers and personnel. In the past few months, I have been exploring more of the local color of Albuquerque, visiting the beautiful Botanical Gardens, and seeing the natural flora in the Southwest in some breathtaking greenhouses, gardens, and nature paths. I also had the opportunity to visit the world-famous Balloon Fiesta! The sky-diving show was spectacular! Now I’m waiting for the first snow of the season!

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