The mighty Rio Grande. This river is the main source of water not only for the San Luis Valley, but also for Blanca Wetlands. The water that flows through the Rio Grande is used for agriculture and by people in their homes. It is also a major migratory path for animals, such as mammals (Big horn sheep) and birds. Over time, the competition for river use between animals and humans has increased, and many people are working to find compromises that allows humans to use the water to make crops, but leave enough for animals and their habitats to survive.
But the point of this blog is not to talk about the politics of water use. As a matter of fact, I wanted to share a thought that occurred to me while taking a water sample in the Rio Grande river. The thought started like this:
It was another sunny spring morning on the valley floor. The breeze was cool, but not fridged like winter, and the sun was high enough that the warmth dared any person out to walk without a jacket (though the breeze made it to where that was almost to uncomfortable). I was prepping sample bottles for the river water (which I have been a part of sampling for almost seven years ) while also thinking about my internship with EFTA. I began to wonder why does this make a difference? What does collecting water almost in New Mexico, after it has passed through every input and output of water in the Valley, have to do with anything that I am doing on Blanca wetlands (which is almost the center of the east side of the Valley)? I began to contemplate this when they thought occurred to me.
Like I mentioned above, I have been helping with these samples for a number of years, and I have been told time and time again how important the river is because many birds do use is as a part of their migratory path. Sampling the river at this location does two things. First, if birds are coming up from the south, they will follow the Rio Grande into the San Luis Valley and find Blanca wetlands. The river (upstream) feeds into the ponds of the Wetlands (indirectly) but monitoring downstream, we can understand what kinds of impacts are happening to the water and try to prevent drastic changes from happen to the water before it gets to Blanca Wetlands but also reduce the changes as it flows further down for miles and ends up in the Gulf of Mexico where some of these birds may winter.
I realized how everything is related to one another. Water below affects the birds that fly above. Food abundance throughout the river dictates how many birds we see in our area and how much of an impact we really make. It all matters to me and the people who manage for the river, for the birds, for nature, and more people.
If there is not a more liberating feeling than knowing that what you are doing matters, I do not know what is. So to all of those out there who care, even a tiny bit – thank you.