Throughout the years, we have assisted in planting various kinds of habitat. All in which benefits the wildlife.
1+Acres of Wheat
1+Acres of Japanese Millet
1+Acres of Triticale
1+Acres of Safflowers
1+Total Acres Planted
Island Unit & Nature Trail Benches
Created with wildlife in mind. These beautiful benches can be seen most predominantly in the various blinds located in the Island Unit Pond area. They are extremely comfortable to sit on and were made locally by Dan Bliss, one of the directors of the Friends of Cibola NWR. Prior to these benches being made, every year, 100-pound hay bales would be hauled out by hand to the various blind locations. These hay bales posed a risk of possible invasive species of weed growth. Over time, as the bales would break down, they would fall apart in the blind as well as increased the sitting height in the blind, which is not very good for observing the wildlife. The bales were not only uncomfortable, but during those dewy mornings would become wet to sit on. With our annual workdays, these benches are now placed during the start of the migration, and then are stored afterwards, to increase the longevity of the benches.
Designed with style in mind. What do you first notice about this picture? Are you quick to notice the purpose behind the design, or does your attention get drawn to the design itself first? Yes, the title of this image is "Donation Box", but this is not just a box. Did you know that Dan Bliss, one of the Directors of the Friends of Cibola NWR, made this donation box. This donation box, that is located in the Visitor Center of the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters, is actually what an American Kestrel Nesting box looks like, minus the green stand of course.
American Kestrel Nesting Box
Have you seen this before? If you have had the wonderful opportunity to drive around the Goose Loop Auto Tour, then you might have noticed the different American Kestrel Nesting boxes located throughout the area in various locations. Dan Bliss, one of the Directors of the Friends of Cibola NWR created 6 of these nesting boxes. He made the nesting boxes from following the instructions from a brochure that explains how to make them located in the Visitor Center. Did you know that these nesting boxes have to be spaced 1/4 mile apart? This is due to the American Kestrel being territorial. Since the addition of the nesting boxes, several American Kestrel's have been spotted utilizing these great new additions.
Did you know that when a fawn is first born, it is not able to jump a canal? At first, this doesn't seem as if it would sound like a big problem, right? Well, actually irrigation canals, are located throughout various parts of the refuge. The canals help supply water for fields for habitat as well as help provide water to areas that need to be flooded such as ponds and marshes. Every year, when the Desert Mule Deer birth their fawns, a common risk for fawns is trying to clear the canal which results in the possibility of them falling in. To help assist in trying to prevent this, we have built 7 wildlife crossings in the Unit 1 area and hope to expand this project.
3 Chamber Bat Box
What better way to help control insects naturally, than to use nature itself. The Friends of Cibola NWR donated 6 bat boxes that have 3 chambers in each box. Each chamber can hold at least 60 bats. Each bat can eat three times its weight in insects each night. This is a wonderful addition, especially when the mosquitos are most prevalent in the area. Now that's a lot of bugs.
Paving and Seal Coating the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge Parking Lot
Did you know that prior to the Friends of Cibola National Wildlife Refuge paving the headquarters parking lot that it was the original parking lot that the refuge was established with back in 1964? In helping assist, we had the parking lot paved as well as had the biannual maintenance of resealing the parking lot. What does resealing the parking lot do? It protects the asphalt from weather that could possibly deteriorate the asphalt. Think of sealing coating the parking lot like how we wear sunscreen to protect our skin.
One of the ways we help assist the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge is through workdays. We have annual workdays, while others can be for a specific project that is either planned or arises for the assistance of the refuge. On this particular workday, we are proudly standing in front of a Conex box (storage container) located on the Island Unit Yard. This particular project was painting the Conex box, which was done by Dan Bliss, one of the Friends of Cibola NWR directors. The Cibola National Wildlife Refuge was supportive in allowing us to help assist in painting this storage container and allowing it to store our various workday related items. It truly is amazing the great working relationship we have with this wonderful refuge.
Unit 2 Wheat Planting
For four years we had helped with planting wheat in Unit 2. At first it started with a small 17-acre area in which we had cleared, disced, and paid to have it laser leveled, reboarded, and planted. The following year we were asked to help assist in paying a farmer to have all of the 200-acres planted in wheat, which was a co-op effort with the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge and the Friends of Cibola NWR. This was amazing habitat that benefited all wildlife which was not harvested and left for the wildlife to consume. For several more years we were able to continue providing such assistance. The refuge was then able to find a farmer able to do what is called co-op farming, which allows us to be able to assist in other parts of the refuge while still providing habitat for the wildlife.
Island Unit Wheat Planting
Two years in a row, we were able to plant over 50-acres of wheat, which was a joint effort between the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge and the Friends of Cibola NWR. This amazing habitat was able to benefit all wildlife and also provided an amazing birding opportunity with the Sandhill Cranes and various other birds such as Ingrids that would graze the fields. It was spectacular to watch the Sandhill Cranes dance in the fields. Since then, the fields have been planted by the same co-op farmer that plants the Unit 2 area. This is great as it provides additional habitat, in which we are able to continue to further assist the refuge in other ways.
Many people are not aware that National Wildlife Refuges do not receive enough funding to be able to operate at full capacity. With the Friends of Cibola NWR, we are able to help assist in being able to receive money from the public to help provide assistance in additional projects. At one point in time, we had workdays, to help assist in clearing the vegetation in the Unit 2 canals. Since then, we have been able to help make a difference and have seen a positive change with the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge. Refuges across the nation still face staffing shortages and not enough funding to operate at full capacity. That is why it is important to support your local refuges by helping support their Friends groups.
Partial Funding of the 39 Ash Throated Fly Catcher Nesting Boxes
We believe in helping others in accomplishing their goals. This is why when Christian Soto, came to us to ask for funding for his Eagle Scout project of the Ash Throated Fly Catcher nesting boxes, we helped. His goal was to restore the historical 39 GPS locations of Ash Throated Fly Catcher Nesting Boxes. This project was to help him in being able to become an Eagle Scout. With him already receiving help and support from other people willing to donate, time, labor, supplies and tools, he was asking for $700 to fund his project, in which we awarded him $350 with the option to fund the rest if he was unable to get additional donations. He was able to not only finish his project, but also install the nesting boxes successfully. What an amazing accomplishment.
As part of our continued efforts of providing beneficial habitat, we planted over 50-acres of safflowers. This was a great success as these plants have continued over the year to reseed themselves.
Japanese Millet Planting
Since 2018 we have helped plant habitat in the Island Unit ponds. This provides amazing habitat for the wildlife and helps provide a nutritious food source for the migrating waterfowl. On several occasions it has been reported that a large flock of Snow Geese have roosted overnight in a pond and ate out the planted food source. With this crop, we are able to hold a workday to plant the seed that we purchased, which saves money on paying a farmer to plant it. The Cibola National Wildlife Refuge is able to work up the fields prior to us needing to plant them. It is with this amazing working relationship that we are able to help accomplish in assisting so much with the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge.
Nature Trail Cleanup
On this particular workday, we were able to help provide the assistance of accomplishing the light final touches of the Nature Trail cleanup. Prior monsoon storms had several trees fall down. The Cibola National Wildlife Refuge had a Fire Crew of at least 24 people as well as the Refuge staff, worked for several ten hours days to clean up the trail. They had to use chainsaws and woodchippers to restore the Trial prior to the conditions that the storm had made. In addition, they were also able to reclaim the trail to the Photograph blind off of the Nature Trail. When we held our workday, we were able to do the final touches such as light trimming and picking up leftover wood. The Nature Trail was also dragged during the workday to clean up any leftover sticks. This Trail is a great place to enjoy nature as well as see a wide variety of birds and other animals.