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Managing Wetlands in the Anthropocene

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Abstract:

Climate change has profound implications for water managers in the American Southwest Borderlands. Climatologists generally agree that the region will become increasingly arid as the 21st century advances. Even if future precipitation approaches historic means, higher temperatures assure increased evaporation and reduced snowpack (with consequent changes to water storage), leading to substantial reduction in stream flow and effective available moisture. None will feel the challenge of managing water more keenly than those charged with overseeing southwestern wetlands for migratory birds. This case study examines the history of the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, located along the Rio Grande in central New Mexico. Constructed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service between the late 1930s and the 1950s, the Bosque del Apache is one of a chain of artificial wetlands designed to compensate for the natural wetlands that had once dotted the Rocky Mountain flyway extending from northern Mexico to Canada and Alaska. From the very beginning, water managers struggled to provide sufficient water for this complex of marshes, ponds, and riparian woodlands. In the 1950s, members of the Elephant Butte Irrigation District (EBID), situated just downstream, sued to stop the flow of water through the refuge because providing water for wildlife did not meet the legal definition of “beneficial use” under New Mexico’s water laws. The EBID proved unsuccessful, and yet as the Rio Grande has become the Rio Poco, water rights remain fraught. This paper will explore the history of water management on the Bosque del Apache NWR and examine the implications of climate change for the future of refuges for migratory birds in the increasingly arid Southwest Borderlands.
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Association:
Name: ASEH Annual Conference
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http://aseh.net


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1171219_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Weisiger, Marsha. "Managing Wetlands in the Anthropocene" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Annual Conference, Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL, <Not Available>. 2018-01-10 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1171219_index.html>

APA Citation:

Weisiger, M. "Managing Wetlands in the Anthropocene" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Annual Conference, Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL <Not Available>. 2018-01-10 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1171219_index.html

Publication Type: Panel Paper
Abstract: Climate change has profound implications for water managers in the American Southwest Borderlands. Climatologists generally agree that the region will become increasingly arid as the 21st century advances. Even if future precipitation approaches historic means, higher temperatures assure increased evaporation and reduced snowpack (with consequent changes to water storage), leading to substantial reduction in stream flow and effective available moisture. None will feel the challenge of managing water more keenly than those charged with overseeing southwestern wetlands for migratory birds. This case study examines the history of the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, located along the Rio Grande in central New Mexico. Constructed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service between the late 1930s and the 1950s, the Bosque del Apache is one of a chain of artificial wetlands designed to compensate for the natural wetlands that had once dotted the Rocky Mountain flyway extending from northern Mexico to Canada and Alaska. From the very beginning, water managers struggled to provide sufficient water for this complex of marshes, ponds, and riparian woodlands. In the 1950s, members of the Elephant Butte Irrigation District (EBID), situated just downstream, sued to stop the flow of water through the refuge because providing water for wildlife did not meet the legal definition of “beneficial use” under New Mexico’s water laws. The EBID proved unsuccessful, and yet as the Rio Grande has become the Rio Poco, water rights remain fraught. This paper will explore the history of water management on the Bosque del Apache NWR and examine the implications of climate change for the future of refuges for migratory birds in the increasingly arid Southwest Borderlands.


 
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