Stewarding the Environment on the Refuge and Beyond
Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, FWS
Wayne Shifflett, Refuge Manager
Managing waste, recycling, and purchasing products made with recycled content are some of the ways that Buenos Aires NWR employees are fulfilling the agency's mission to conserve and protect ecosystems worldwide for migratory birds and other wildlife. Staff are tackling these activities in addition to their primary functions related to protecting the 116,095 acres in Southern Arizona, habitat for 350 species of migratory birds, 8 endangered species, as well as other wildlife.
Refuge staff have expanded the recycling/waste reduction program recently to a larger-scale operation, involving the entire Refuge staff, the local League of Conservation Voters and the Friends of the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. By the end of 2000, the Refuge was recycling approximately 40% of its wastes, a 100% increase over the prior year. Because of the remoteness of the Refuge, recyclable materials must be stored until it is practical to haul them 70 miles into Tucson. Volunteers were enlisted to construct 2 small storage buildings to accommodate the program.
Materials recycled last year included 700 lbs., of aluminum cans, 80 lbs. of plastic bottles, 30 tires, 50 bicycles, and 22,380 lbs. of scrap metal that had been illegally dumped throughout the Refuge. Routine waste associated with auto maintenance, such as used oil, fuel filters, solvents, and batteries, are also recycled. Visitor use areas now have recycling bins. The employee kitchen now has a bin for organic waste, which is composted and used to enrich soils for landscaping around the headquarters' building.
Re-refined engine oil and recycled content bathroom tissue, paper towels, plastic trash bags, copy paper and remanufactured toner cartridges are some of the products that Refuge staff researched and purchased, effectively "closing the loop" by supporting a market for products that use recovered materials instead of virgin resources. The manager, staff, and volunteers of the Refuge are committed leaders in promoting practices that, if adopted broadly, can make a difference in sustaining biodiversity.