December 13, 2008
Restoration of a vast tract of salt-cedar-choked land on the south end of the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge to productive wetlands and wildlife habitat was the life dream of the late John Taylor, Senior Biologist at the Refuge for nearly 20 years. The restoration was well under way before his untimely death in 2004, and the project has advanced dramatically since, following Taylor’s vision.
Some 60 Taylor family members, friends and representatives of Ducks Unlimited joined the refuge today (Dec. 13) in dedicating the John Taylor Water Management Project, which will deliver water to the 1798-acre redeveloped area, including 78 irrigated agricultural acres within the restored area. Duck’s Unlimited’s Socorro Chapter has provided $50,000 to help complete the water management project.
The dedication began at 9:30 a.m. in the Christina Ann Lannan Education Annex at the visitor center with welcoming remarks from Refuge Manager Tom Melanson, followed by overviews of the importance of Taylor’s work by Refuge Senior Biologist John Vradenburg, retired Refuge Manager Phil Norton, and Ducks Unlimited Regional Biologist Keith McKnight. DU Regional Director John White chaired the indoor event.
Following the speech-making, attendees drove in caravan to view the water management project located south of the Marsh Tour Loop, which includes an automated Langemann headgate, lift pump and flood risers to deliver water without loss from evaporation. The Taylor Water Management Project is a work-in-progress which will continue to grow in years to come, Vradenburg noted.
The outdoor dedication also included a sneak preview of the new one-mile John Taylor Memorial interpretive trail into the restored area, ending at the future site of a monument and bronze plaque which will honor Taylor. The trail follows an abandonned channel of the Rio Grande from a parking area off the Marsh Loop.
Still to be completed are five interpretive stations along the trail and the monument itself. The raised monument site overlooks the restored agricultural area, with Point-of-Land and Chupadera Mountains in the background.
John Taylor was Senior Biologist of the refuge from 1985 until his death in 2004 at age 49. He became an ardent champion of and recognized expert in North America’s waterfowl populations, participating in management symposia and research projects in the U. S. and Canada. In 2000, he chaired the International Goose Symposium in Albuquerque, one of a continuing series of forums at which several hundred leading goose biologists and managers share research and management information. It was under Taylor’s leadership that the first inter-agency roadmap for coordinated habitat management in the Middle Rio Grande…The Middle Rio Grande Waterfowl Management Plan…was developed.
Taylor’s work on the refuge to develop techniques for restoring wetlands infested with invasive salt-cedar to productive native wetland habitat has become a model throughout the Southwest. Largely as a result of Taylor’s work, Bosque del Apache was designated in 2004 by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as one of a select few Land Management Research Demonstration refuges, charged with helping other refuges to apply the results of research conducted at Bosque.
In a testimonial following Taylor’s death in 2004, Jeff Haskins, Chief to the Migratory Bird Office in FWS Region 2, wrote: “The results of John’s 20-year tenure at Bosque del Apache are living testimony that exceptionally talented and motivated people who focus their careers in the direction of their passion can accomplish great things.”