12 June 2014 Defenders’ Wildlife Volunteer Corps Make a Difference at New Mexico’s Salinas Pueblo National Monument Posted by: Carol Baumgartel | 1 comment | Share: You can make a huge difference for habitat and have a lot of fun when you put 13 enthusiastic Defenders’ volunteers (including 3 Boy Scouts) into a magnificent National Monument site! Led by myself and four National Park Service rangers, our volunteers drove more than 85 miles each way to spend the day refurbishing heavily eroded trails, trimming overgrown paths, and replacing the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument’s signage at this ancient site in New Mexico–the Quarai Ruins. The oldest of three missions built during the late 16th to early 17th centuries, Quarai began about 600AD as an Indian pueblo and salt trading center. The trails within the monument bring visitors into close proximity to the ancient stone ruins and the quarries that yielded the red sandstone of the mission’s soaring walls. With hundreds of visitors each day, the trails and habitat quickly become eroded, tempting monument visitors to leave the designated pathway. When park visitors venture from established trails, they can disturb wildlife that may be nesting or foraging, and cause these already-established species to leave the monument territory. Many types of wildlife live here, including great horned owls, common nighthawks, spiny and collared lizards, porcupines, and even black bears and coyotes. Provided with five yards of dense wood mulch, our tenacious team quickly assessed how to get the job done! A relay team of three Scouts and six Defenders’ volunteers filled multiple loads of mulch into wheelbarrows, unloaded the contents into the ruts, raked the material smooth, and tamped down the mulch. We’re not sure if the Scouts liked pulling and pushing the wagons up the hill more, or riding (accompanied by shrieks of delight!) the wagons down the hill to have them refilled. It seemed obvious that the adults wished they could have done the same. While the mulch team made quick work of the trail repair, four volunteers took their clippers and loppers to rid the path of dead branches and overgrown bushes. This provided our ‘garden’ experts a chance to use their deep knowledge of trimming and pruning! The Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument is a place where history, culture and nature come together. The Quarai ruins date back before the 1500s. Volunteers empty wheelbarrows of mulch onto the eroded trail. Volunteers spread mulch along the length of the trail. It takes a while, but it's worth it! Our volunteers included some local scouts. This is what the trails looked like before we got to them - eroded and in rough shape. Now repaired, the trail will be able to stand up to the flow of summertime visitors soon to come! A great team that did some great work to protect this special place. After a great lunch in the meadow and a chance to identify the birds that were everywhere (we saw everything from warbling vireo and spotted towhee to western bluebirds and a black-chinned hummingbird), the team organized the plan to replace the old, faded signage with the new signs that the rangers had placed throughout the site. This gave each of them a chance to see all parts of the ruins, as well as a chance to discover the story of how the site evolved from a salt trading route to a colonial religious center. With the work done, the rangers were more than impressed that our Defenders’ volunteers and the Scouts completed everything we committed to doing. They wanted to know when we were coming back to the other two sites! Carol Baumgartel is the New Mexico Outreach Representative for Defenders of Wildlife Want to take part in volunteer opportunities near you? Sign up to receive updates from Defenders, and we’ll let you know when an event is coming up in your area. One Response to “Defenders’ Wildlife Volunteer Corps Make a Difference at New Mexico’s Salinas Pueblo National Monument” choffman June 12th, 2014 wow, what fun. Looks like a fabulous place to visit. Now you all have special memories that will last forever of your experience there. Reply Post Your Comment Click here to cancel reply. Name (required) Mail (required) (will not be published) You May also be interested in Wolf Weekly Wrap-Up Turning up the Heat Against Idaho’s Predator Derby; Red Wolf Recovery Program Reviewed; Wolf Champion in Congress Takes On New Leadership Role Chasing eyeshine Every fall on the prairie, black-footed ferret chasers take to the field to study these nocturnal creatures. Small Refuge, Big Impact: Wildlife Conservation on the Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge Thanks to continued efforts to restore bison in the American West, a herd of bison can call the Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge home.