10 December 2020

Settling in the Southwest

Written by: Abraham Elmir

As of now, it’s been almost 3 months since I moved to Albuquerque to work with the United States Forest Service. These past 2 months, in particular, have been a period where I have gotten to know more about the responsibilities of my job, my coworkers in my region, and the features of Albuquerque and New Mexico that make quite an interesting location.


With each passing day, I am gradually getting adjusted to my responsibilities as a Water Resource Assistant. From being unaware of what water rights are to becoming more acquainted with New Mexico water law and terminology, I can say that these past two months have been going well for me in terms of my professional growth. My supervisors Roy Jemison and Joaquin Baca have done well to teach me about water rights and quality specific to New Mexico and helping be aware of the status of how each forest hydrology staff in Region 3 are collecting their Water Rights and Uses (WRU) data. The main priority of my job this year is to work with the regional office to implement an online mobile data app collection process for WRU data, so getting to know what the other forests are doing to collect their data is vital information. I have also been given hints of potential field visits to these regional forests to test out the mobile app collection process in January. Because of COVID-19, the number of days when I was to be out on the field to learn more about WRU and collect data had fallen drastically. Last month, for example, I was supposed to spend a week at Gila National Forest to meet with the local hydrologist and learn about how WRU data is collected out there, but because of a two-week shutdown issued by the state government, the trip had to be postponed. I was able to go on a one-day field visit with Joaquin out in the Jemez Mountains to verify that some human-made and naturally made beaver dams were not in any way, restricting water to a nearby pueblo. The common misconception that people have with beaver dams is that they cause water to not flow down a stream to where towns rely on the water source to be available. The truth about these dams, however, is that they only slow the flow of water not withhold it, and as a result cause the land surrounding the streams to have gradual growth of biota occur due to the longer availability of water promoting growth in these areas. While I didn’t get to see any beavers, it was overall a fulfilling field experience and I hope to embark on more field visits like that soon.

Outside of work, I have gotten to know a lot about the city of Albuquerque and the State of New Mexico. Within these past two months, I have been able to visit the Sandias Mountains on the east side of the city and the National Petroglyph Monument on the west side of the city. I have to admit that it is quite amazing to live in a city where you visit a mountain one day and visit a desert the next day. I have also tried to know about the city life as best as I can so that when cases are low again soon, I can hopefully go to events that make the city and people so lively and full of spirit. I have also been biking a lot lately since it is one of my favorite activities to do, and have enjoyed the complex yet sustaining bike trails that run all over the city. I have gone biking every other weekend and enjoyed riding through trails that take me through the city and other natural settings surrounding it such as the Rio Grande. It’s a type of ride that I definitely can’t experience while in my home town of Miami.

Lastly, I have gotten a chance of seeing the famous Sandhill Cranes that fly and land in New Mexico during their seasonal flights in the winter. I saw flocks of these cranes and other beautiful bird species while out at the Fisheries and Wildlife Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refugee Center. The photo I submitted alongside this blog is me standing right next to the entrance sign for the wildlife refugee. Waking up at 4 am to see an immense amount of cranes, hawks, geese, and other species of bird fly out in the sky at sunrise was an unforgettable experience. I had no regrets when devoting my time to that trip.

Agency: U.S Forest Service

Program: Resource Assistant Program (RAP)

Location: Southwestern Regional Office

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