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Bosque del Apache Documentary Shows Birds, Mammals, Plants, People

LAS CRUCES -- A New Mexico State University documentary that takes a panoramic look at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge will premiere Nov. 20, during Festival of the Cranes in Socorro.


Keynote speaker Patrick Holian, senior producer with NMSU agricultural communications, will show and discuss "Bosque del Apache: Ancient Flyway on the Rio Grande," beginning at 8 p.m. at Macey Center on the New Mexico Tech campus. Admission is $4.

"The film covers the great flocks of migratory birds the Bosque is known for, of course, but also the mammals, the ancient people who lived there and the surrounding desert," Holian said. "The refuge has perhaps 10 percent of its land in wetlands and the rest of it is Chihuahuan Desert, so the film takes an overall look at the refuge and all of its aspects."

Viewers can follow sandhill cranes on their 800-mile migration to breeding grounds in Montana. With animation, they can descend into an elaborately decorated chamber from the Piro culture. And as they ooh and ah over the breathtaking shots, they can learn about the Bosque and its inhabitants with help from scientists.

Four NMSU experts are featured in the film. Plant Specialist Kelly Allred hikes the refuge to explain variations in desert shrubs, grasses and wetlands. Jon Boren, wildlife specialist with the Cooperative Extension Service , discusses the mammals that make their home at the Bosque. Don Caccamise, head of Fishery and Wildlife Sciences, explains migratory habits of cranes. Range Scientist Kirk McDaniel discusses the problem of invasive, nonnative saltcedar at the refuge and revegetation efforts.

Holian, whose award-winning work has aired on PBS and other national networks, will discuss the making of the documentary, show the video and answer questions from the audience. Although it's impossible to tell from watching the finished piece, he had a number of adventures along the way.

"At one point, you'll see a delightful shot of a placid porcupine in a tree and he looks very comfortable up there," Holian said. "To get the shot, I was literally up to my armpits in 40-degree water, wearing waders, with this very expensive camera hovering above the water. There were a lot of moments like that and a lot of early mornings, because you have to wake up before the animals to get the shots."

The Bosque documentary is the final installment of a three- part "Southwest Horizons" series Holian has produced. The other two videos are "White Sands, White Wilderness," about the unique history, animals and formation of White Sands National Monument; and "The Chiricahuas: Mountain Islands in the Desert," about the geology, plants and animals of this southern Arizona mountain range. For information about ordering Southwest Horizons videos, call toll-free 888-750-4156. For more information about events during Festival of the Cranes, call (505) 835-1828 or (505) 835- 0424.