Mention “Buenos Aires” and most people think first of the tango and steaming platters of meat on an Argentine grill. However, a less heralded Buenos Aires lies within easy driving distance of Tucson: the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge (BANWR).
Joshua Smith, Wildlife Refuge Specialist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, will discuss this often overlooked wildlife haven at 2:30 p.m. Thursday (Nov. 30). Smith’s presentation, “The Sonoran Desert’s Buenos Aires: An Illustrated Introduction,” will describe the Refuge’s history and missions, with emphasis on its endangered masked bobwhite quail program. He will also discuss recreational opportunities in BANWR, including wildlife observation and photography, hiking, biking, camping, hunting and fishing.
Located 80 miles (about two hours) southwest of Academy Village, BANWR is a sky island ecosystem. Its 117,107 acres consist of desert grasslands blending into trees, rivers and wetlands. It is the former site of “Buenos Ayres” (good winds), a cattle ranch established in 1864 by Pedro Aguirre Jr. (A later owner of the property changed the spelling to “Aires.”)
The Refuge was established in 1985 to preserve habitat for threatened and endangered plants and animals. It is one of 565 refuges that comprise the National Wildlife Refuge System, a national network of public lands and waters set aside for the benefit of wildlife and the nature-loving public.
BANWR is home to 58 mammal species, including mule deer, white-tailed deer, pronghorn, javelina, puma, and—very rarel—jaguar. More than 325 different bird species and 53 species of reptiles and amphibians also live there.
Smith graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Conservation Biology. He has worked for the federal government since 2010 as a Biological Sciences Technician, an Ecologist, and now a Wildlife Refuge Specialist.
Written by Margaret Scott, Academy Village Volunteer