16 June 2021

Hello from New Mexico!

Written by: Brenda Ramirez

Hello everyone, my name is Brenda Ramirez, and I am part of the Directorate Fellowship Program (DFP) with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service! For this fellowship, I am working on the Quantitative Conservation Safeguards for Oil & Gas Effects Project with the New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office. I came to New Mexico from Southern California where I am in the second year of my master’s degree at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. For my thesis, I am evaluating whether human landscape change over thousands of years has affected the distribution and evolution of the Pacific swallow throughout Southeast Asia and the Pacific. After I defend my thesis next semester, I hope to pursue a career in wildlife conservation, which is why I am very excited to be part of the DFP.

Through the DFP I have been given many incredible opportunities to learn about the range of work being done by each program throughout the southwest region. I am eager to continue to listen to these presentations because they are showing me the different opportunities available and how they work. Although I’m not sure what I want to focus on within wildlife conservation, I am starting to narrow it down after watching these presentations. As my first month is coming to a close, I have learned a lot both about how the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works and the specific importance of my project.

My project is looking at the direct impacts from recent oil and gas development on habitats and species within the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Farmington and Carlsbad Field Office planning areas. The information collected from my project will be used to better support environmental reviews and consultation services when new oil and gas pads are being built to prevent negative effects on any state and federally listed species. New Mexico is the third-largest oil-producing state, and the production is expected to continue to increase so this information is vital to protect any listed species.

So far, I have completed the first stint of my fieldwork in Farmington, NM where I have been collecting data from recently developed oil and gas plots on BLM land. Using transect sampling, I have collected data on effect features of the oil and gas pads like mowing or mastication, exotic plant species, and more as well as response features including different levels of vegetation cover, active burrows, scat, and more. I am now working on processing my data so I can begin the first part of my analysis before starting the second stint of my fieldwork in Carlsbad, NM in a few weeks.

I am very thankful to HAF, MANO, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office for this opportunity to grow and be part of this project. I am excited to continue my work and learn more about the southwest region.

Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service - DFP

Location: Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office

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