Valle de Oro: Connecting Bicycling and Wildlife Ecologies

The wildlife refuges further out in the country from Albuquerque are wonderful, and there is a new one real close to us, just past the city limits on the south side of town called Valle de Oro.  As I explored their website I found some great articulation of how human health, wildlife ecology, and land integrity all fit together.  If you have a chance check out the “our transportation scholar” link from Valle de Oro to explore in detail how the local community relates to the lands.   Angela West discusses how this wildlife reserve provides a critical measure for human health, and provides a point of engagement for us to reinvigorate our baseline understanding of our linkages to the rest of the natural world.  We go the way of our wild neighbors, our health and destinies being linked together.  In the video clip on the Rio Grande High School group called the Green Ravens, students discuss how the environment matters, and the land is the common substratum for the life of every living thing.  Yes we care!  Students pay attention to what their communities support, and Valle de Oro is confirmation place and wildlife integrity matters.  There is also some great coverage of how the 2nd street road connecting the Valle de Oro to the human residential communities would open up greater access by being redesigned to recognize the range of travel options residents are choosing to get around by.  I am so looking forward to bicycling to Valle de Oro and meeting more of my neighbors.

Cranes feeding in the water south of downtown Albuquerque

Cranes feeding in the water south of downtown Albuquerque

As a bicyclist and geographer I’m interested in a lot of things, and how they go together.  Especially in ways things combine to produce good health!  The integrity of the land is probably the most important metric for how we are doing.  Visiting these wildlife refuges so accessible here in New Mexico give us important perspective on sharing.  Our success as human beings is not predicated on domination, but fundamentally contingent upon sharing, and keeping resource uses in balance with the needs of diverse constituents including all kingdoms of life.  It is like what our founding fathers knew about freedom.  If one individual’s freedom was compromised anywhere, it matters to all of us.

Cranes are not just in the wildlife refuges.  You see them all around Albuquerque in their habitat.

Cranes are not just in the wildlife refuges. You see them all around Albuquerque in their habitat.

Bicycling provides a way of being that facilitates my health and learning at the same time.  It kind of lets me know how I’m doing, and gets me out there to see how we are doing.  I am writing so much about birds and wildlife in general because the health of humans and wildlife go together.  For one thing having open space where wildlife thrives makes for nice human habitat as well, and provides us comfort and inspiration, a kinship connection with the land we need.  The wildlife refuges along the Rio Grande are places where we can be restored and rejuvenated for continuing our journeys, just as they function for the migratory birdlife that winters there while building up energy stores for the long flight back to their summer homes north of the arctic circle.  These beautiful agricultural and open landscape are real attractions for bicycling and universally recognized for the irreplaceable, non-saleable value they bestow.

“The earth is what we all have in common.  It is what we are made of and what we live from…There is an uncanny resemblance between our behavior toward each other and our behavior toward the earth…the willingness to exploit one becomes the willingness to exploit the other.”  –Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture

The Rio Grande valley specializes in food production, for us and many other creatures, which is the most fundamental aspect of our economy.  No wonder the local, sustainable, and organic food movements are reinvigorating our connections to these lands through the lens of our personal, family, and community health.  That is pretty much what these birds are doing here too.  The feast of life!

Cranes feeding in the drainage alongside the Chavez Loop trail, downtown in background

Cranes feeding in the drainage alongside the Chavez Loop trail, downtown in background


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