Pronghorn Herd Doubles in Size
Thirty pronghorn were moved to Buenos Aires NWR from the San Bernadino Valley in southeastern Arizona in late January, more than doubling the size of the herd of two dozen pronghorn already on the refuge. Arizona Game and Fish had captured the refuge’s newest residents in nets fired from a low-flying helicopter. The animals were blindfolded to keep them calm, and then loaded into trailers for the 200-mile drive across southern Arizona.
Two of the bucks and five of the does were fitted with radio tracking collars before their release. This will allow Game and Fish to track where the pronghorns are traveling and what areas of the refuge they are using. This enables us to plan where to add a water source or where to modify Right of Way fences to make them wildlife friendly and make it easier for the pronghorn to cross State Road 286 or Arivaca Road.
These new pronghorn will increase the gene pool for the existing herd, and also give visitors more of an opportunity to see pronghorn while they are at Buenos Aires NWR.
Brown Canyon Road Reopening Delayed Indefinitely
The road into Brown Canyon has been damaged by three years of monsoon rains with no maintenance. At this time, it is not known when the road will be reopened.
Right now, the road shows large rocks and needs to be built up with dirt to allow the surface to be scraped smooth. Unfortunately, any movement of soil requires an archeological clearance but it is uncertain how long it will take to get an archeological team to come to the refuge and do the inspection.
Once the road is repaired, it is expected that hikes into the sycamore-shaded canyon will start once again.
More Barbed Wire Fence Modified for Wildlife
Twelve Sierra Club members and 28 volunteers affiliated with Four Wheel Campers came to help on a project at Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge during the last week in January and first week in February. They modified 4.2 miles of barbed wire fence along State Road 286 to make it wildlife friendly.
The work involved dropping the top and bottom barbed wire and replacing it with smooth wire that was lower for the top wire and higher off the ground for the bottom wire. This makes it easier for deer to jump the fences and safer for pronghorn and other non-jumpers to crawl under. The discarded barbed wire was machine wound and removed from the field to be recycled. Besides helping to string and stretch the new wire, the volunteers also cleared brush.
We thank all of these volunteers for their hard work and dedication to get this work done. The new pronghorn are already using these safer crossings.
Arivaca Cienega and Arivaca Creek Trail Improvements
Our seasonal volunteers, members of the Friends group, BANWR maintenance, and Wilderness Volunteers, a nonprofit that promotes volunteer service on America’s wild lands, collectively put in over 350 hours of improvements to the Arivaca Cienega and Arivaca Creek Trail in March.
The Arivaca Trail had severely eroded walkways, tripping hazards, and fallen trees. The volunteers placed almost 60 log steps on several of the very steep slopes along the trail. Rock was brought in to create a better tread and rock dams were built on the smaller declines.
The volunteers also repaired and repainted the kiosk at Arivaca Cienega, rebuilt benches, and constructed two ramadas to provide shelter from the sun for picnic tables. One table is at the Arivaca Creek parking lot and the other is at the Aguirre Lake parking lot.
Volunteers for a Day
For the last five years, Father Tom Lankenau has been bringing a group from his parish in Montana to the Arivaca area to learn about border issues and also to volunteer at the refuge.
In one busy day, they built most of a ramada to cover a picnic table which was completed by Wilderness Volunteers and placed at the Aguirre Lake parking area. They also put mesh on 11 “following pens” for the Masked Bobwhites. These pens are where the quail chicks learn to follow their foster parents before being released into the wild.
Newly Restored Bench at the Cienega
Jess and Susy Bevans, two seasonal Buenos Aires NWR volunteers, recently did a beautiful job refinishing a mesquite bench at the Arivaca Cienega. This bench was originally built about 20 years ago by Nancy Fricchione and her late husband. Nancy is a long-time resident of Arivaca and still walks regularly at the Cienega.
New Wildlife Drinker Installed
The Friends of BANWR and Arizona Antelope Foundation contributed funds to help purchase many of the parts for a new wildlife drinker, including a well pump, a well controller, and 1500 feet of water pipe.
BANWR maintenance set the well pump, wired the controller and solar, trenched over 500 feet to install the waterline, and plumbed everything together. Now, the tank is full and the wildlife drinker is online.
Refuge staff have placed a game camera next to the well and hope to see pronghorn come in to drink, as well as other wildlife.
More Fence Busting
Removing abandoned and unused barbed wire fence from public lands is a big task but extremely important for wildlife. A wide open landscape is safer and allows wildlife freedom of movement for migration, foraging, finding mates, and predator avoidance.
The Desert Fence Busters is a coalition that includes the Arizona Wildlife Federation, Saguaro National Park, the Friends of Ironwood Forest and a number of other agencies and organizations including the Friends of BANWR. In the past couple of years, through six Desert Fence Busters projects, volunteers have removed 21 miles of “ghost” barbed wire fence and taken 15,300 pounds of metal off the landscape to be recycled.
Agencies like the Arizona Game and Fish Department provide resources such as tools and fence wire rollers. Friends of Ironwood Forest sets up an information table, and welcomes volunteers. All of the groups help in organizing the projects and share the costs of providing lunch, snacks, and beverages. It is truly a collaborative effort to make our public lands safer for pronghorn, deer, bighorn sheep and other wildlife.