District 2 City council Newsletter-  

Candelaria Nature 

Welcome to this week’s #TransformationThursday, your weekly opportunity to learn about all the exciting projects happening on and around YOUR Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge. 


From: Valle de Oro Comments, FW2 <>
To: Valle de Oro Comments, FW2 <>
Subject: Valle de Oro NWR Transformation Thursday 5/2/2024


Welcome to this week’s #TransformationThursday, your weekly opportunity to learn about all the exciting projects happening on and around YOUR Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge. 


Another reminder that the #TransformationThursday posts are now a monthly outreach but may switch back to a weekly outreach as Jennifer Owen-White will be returning as your Refuge Manager starting next week. Her detail as the Refuge Supervisor for Arizona and New Mexico national wildlife refuges comes to a close soon, and she has done a wonderful job supporting and providing guidance for our refuges across these two states for the past four months. Ariel Elliott will be stepping back into their position as Assistant Refuge Manager and continuing to support refuge staff onsite, and Jennifer, as she transitions back to Valle but will also be taking some time off as well. 


We're now into May and tumbling into field season and even more!


A great way to kick off field season is by joining our Weed Warriors group for a drop-in volunteer day on Friday, May 3 from 1-3:30pm MDT at the Visitor Center or throughout the season. A volunteer orientation will also be provided on Friday, May 10 from 2:30pm to 4pm MDT. 


Furthermore, we also have our Nature Tots program for our little explorers of ages 3-6 years old to join a refuge ranger for a seasonal story, crafts, and nature exploration for their young minds on May 3 or June 7 from 10am to 11:30am MDT. 


We're excited to say that our new Biologist is finally onboard as well. Here is a short autobiography from our new Biologist, Cynthia Dunkleberger, who is already off to a great start:


Hello! I’m Cynthia Dunkleberger (she/her) and I am thrilled to be joining the team at Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge as the wildlife biologist! I am looking forward to supporting the refuge and the community through this new role. I am originally from Arizona but have moved around a lot due to my spouse’s military career. We have closed that chapter of our lives and are looking forward to calling Albuquerque our home! My family is mostly in Arizona, but Albuquerque is my spouse’s birthplace and I have always enjoyed our visits here. We are excited to remain in the Southwest and our children are looking forward to permanently placing some roots in NM! I graduated from New Mexico State University in December of 2023 with a Bachelor of Science in Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology. While working towards my degree, I worked in a variety of wildlife research positions such as avian carcass surveys. I am the first Fledgling from NMSU’s Avian Migration Program where I assisted in research on the breeding ecology of Rosy finches and intrafeather deuterium variation as part of my own research. In 2022, I was a Pathways intern for US Fish and Wildlife Service Apache Trout Crew in Arizona where I assisted with Apache trout recovery in the beautiful White Mountains of Arizona. We partnered with White Mountain Apache Tribe and Arizona Conservation Corps to remove nonnative invasive species and conduct stream assessments and population estimates. In 2023, I was part of the Directorate Resource Fellowship Program (DFP) cohort with USFWS where I was stationed at Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge in Northern NM. During this time, I conducted an assessment of the New Mexico Meadow Jumping Mouse on the refuge. In my free time, I enjoyed assisting with Northern leopard frog research and hiking. I am grateful for the opportunity to join USFWS with Valle de Oro NWR and am excited to continue the restoration efforts here at the refuge! (Cynthia's photo is below. She is wearing a headlamp and holding a frog!)

Reminder that the first week of April, our biology team with support of partners and other programs conducted surface irrigation/flooding of the still developing riparian forested areas of the refuge along the far west side of the refuge. The intent was to flood the narrow strip of trees along the far western boundary of the refuge that we have been planting trees in since 2018 give these trees a good drink of water to continue to encourage them to reach deep into the water table. 


Next round of irrigation will be in the northwestern section of the refuge for these same trees and will include the wetland in that area too. This will be a second full attempt at irrigating that wetland for surface and/or groundwater. So we'll see how things go! Irrigation is planned for the week of May 13, depending. If you are interested in volunteering, then please follow up with our Biologist Cynthia Dunkleberger at to be added to the schedule and learn more about irrigation and Park Ranger: Volunteer and Youth Employment Coordinator Dakota Dominguez at to ensure you are signed up as a refuge volunteer. Other wetland areas like in our southeast section are slated for irrigation in June/July to align or mimic the monsoon season.


Below is our 2024 Spring Events Calendar. Come check out all that we have to offer for May and June. Definitely come learn about all that is happening to transform Valle de Oro at our open house/community update on Thursday, May 23 from 5:30pm - 7pm MDT. 


We have lots of incredible events all month long, check them out and come join us!!! 


Lots of exciting things are happening at Valle de Oro, thanks for being a part of our transformation! Don’t forget you can sign up for these updates via email by dropping us a line at or just check in with us on Facebook or Nextdoor every first Thursday of the month. We hope to see you on the refuge soon and in our Visitor Center (Open Tues-Sat 9am-4pm).



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