National Wildlife Refuge
Sandhill cranes visiting the Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge. (Photo credit: Anthony Temer / USFWS)

In a neighborhood of Albuquerque, New Mexico, called Mountain View, kids play next to fossil fuel facilities, junkyards, and manufacturing plants.

Lambert: “This is in their backyard … not only their backyard, their front yard!”

Kim Lambert is an environmental justice manager with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. She says Mountain View residents are fed up with industrial development and the pollution that comes with it.

So when an old farm came up for sale in 2012, residents were determined to create green space for the community. They partnered with nonprofits and the government to turn the 570 acres along the Rio Grande into the Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge.

Now it’s becoming habitat for birds and other wildlife. It will also absorb stormwater runoff. So as heavy downpours grow more common, the refuge can help reduce flooding in the nearby community.

Industry still dominates Mountain View. But Lambert says the refuge provides green space – and a bit of hope.

Lambert: “There are places where people could have picnics. There are educational opportunities. And thousands of people now come to tour the refuge. It’s a benefit for all.”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.