August 2019

Nature

Menu of this month's listings, stories and columns

El Paso Zoo — 4001 E. Paisano. Entrance hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Admission is $12 for ages 13 to 59; $9 for ages 60 and older and active duty military (including spouse) with ID; $7.50 ages 3 to 12; and free for ages 2 and under. Zoo members admitted free. Information: 212-0966, elpasozoo.org, or on Facebook at ElPasoZoo.
  The zoo will stay open until 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10. for Zoofari Nite
  Bug Fest celebrating all things creepy crawly is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 10-11. Guests interact with different bugs from all over the world and to even try some bug delicacies prepared by the Zoo's executive chef. Live entertainment, arts and crafts, games, inflatables, educational lectures from El Paso community partners also featured.
  The “Wings of the World” Bird Show is 12:30 p.m. weekdays and 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. weekends at the new Wildlife Amphitheater.
  “Meet the Keeper” talks are 10:30 to 3:15 p.m. at various locations throughout the zoo. Keepers will on hand to meet with guests, discuss their experiences and talk about the animals.
  “African Star” Train ride tickets are $2 plus tax ($1.50 for children and society members).
  Asian Elephant Training Encounters scheduled at noon daily.

DinoTracks Tour — Insights Science Center hosts its monthly 3-mile DinoTracks tour 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 4, at Mt. Cristo Rey in Sunland Park. Cost: $15 (age 5 and younger free); available at eventbrite; early payment requested. Information: 534-0000 or insightselpaso.org.
  Bring of water, snacks and sunscreen. Hike over moderate terrain for about two miles. Next hike is 9 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 1.

Wyler Tramway Hikes — 1700 McKinley (west of Alabama). Hikes are free and last 2 to 4 hours, depending on trail. Not recommended for first-time hikers. Bring sun protection and wear suitable shoes and clothing. Meet at starting point at 6:45 a.m. Information: 562-9899.
• A Women’s Hike is 7 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 4, on Directisimo Trail up to the junction with Jackaloop trail and back down.
• Last Sunday hike is 7 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 25, up Directisimo Trail.

Master Gardener Course — The Texas AgriLife Extension Service will host a 12-week master gardener course 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays, Sept. 5-Nov. 14, at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service (Ascarate Annex, second floor), 301 Manny Martinez. Classes include: intensive horticulture training on topics such as vegetable gardening, trees and pruning, xeriscaping, soils, fertilizers, plant pests and more. After completing the course, participants are required to volunteer time. Application deadline is Aug. 16: $195, includes materials. Information, applications: 771-2354 or txmg.org/elpaso.

Davis Mountains Hummingbird Festival — The festival is Wednesday through Sunday, Aug. 21-25, in Fort Davis, Texas, with trade show, banding demonstrations, field trips, dinners, workshops, talks, art contest and more. Registration through July 31 at fortdavis.com. Information: 1-800-524-3015 or fortdavis.com.
  Keynote speaker is Texas birding legend Victor Emanuel, founder of Victor Emanuel Nature Tours speaking on “The World of Birding.”

El Paso/Trans-Pecos Audubon Society — Red River and Enchanted Circle trip is tentatively set for Aug. 23-26. Nonmembers and beginners are welcome to the society’s field trips. Information: Mark Perkins, 637-3521 or trans-pecos-audubon.com.

Certified Arborist Training — West Texas Urban Forestry Council invites professionals in the field of arboriculture, landscaping, and members of the public to a four-week Certified Arborist training program starting 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fridays, Aug. 30-Sept. 20, at the Texas A&M AgriLife Ext. Office at 301 Manny Martinez Sr. Cost: $250 ($199 students). Certified arborists seeking CEUs or attendees who have previously participated in the course are $150. Registration deadline is Aug. 8 at wtufc.org.
  The West Texas Urban Forestry Council (WTUFC) is dedicated to protecting and developing the urban community forest resources of West Texas and the El Paso Region. The training will prepare people in the tree care profession to take the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Certified Arborist examination.

Municipal Rose Garden — The garden at 3418 Aurora (at Copia) is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily March through November, except for official holidays. The 4-acre garden has many types of roses at the sprawling park area with a waterfall, shade canopy and many other amenities. Admission is free. Information/rentals: El Paso Parks and Recreation, 212-0092 or elpasotexas.gov/parks.

Rio Bosque Wetlands Park — UTEP’s Center for Environmental Resource Management offers free guided walking tours and other activities at Rio Bosque Wetlands Park, 10176 Socorro Rd. in El Paso’s Mission Valley. Tours last about two hours. Information: 747-8663 or riobosque.org.
• Introductory tour is 8 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 11.
• Community workday is 8 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 17 and Sept. 21.
• Birding tours are 8 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 24 and Sept. 7.
  Meeting place is a bridge crossing Riverside Canal. Take Americas Ave. (Loop 375) to Pan American Drive, turn left and travel 1.5 miles.

Franklin Mountains State Park — Most hiking and mountain bike trails begin in the Tom Mays area, off Transmountain Drive on the west side of the park (east of I-10).
  Entry fee is $5 per person, free for age 12 and under (with family). Correct cash or check only. Group rates available. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Information: 566-6441 or on Facebook at FranklinMountainsSP. Web: tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/franklin-mountains.
  Guided hikes and bike rides are $8 per person ($3 State Park Pass holder; $1 children 12 and under); price includes entry. Dogs welcome on leash on some hikes. Reservations required: 566-6441 (8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday).
  Texas Parks and Wildlife Department presentations (free with park admission):
  The 24,000-acre park extends north from the heart of El Paso to the New Mexico state line. The highest point is North Mt. Franklin, 7,192 feet above sea level.

Sierra Club — The El Paso Group of the Sierra Club meets at 7 p.m. the fourth Tuesday of the month at the UTEP Centennial Museum. Information: elpasosierraclub.org.

Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site — Ranch Road 2775 off U.S. 62/180 (Montana Ave.). The site is famed for many Native American rock paintings and unique geology. Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Admission: $7 (free for children 12 and younger). Admission including tours or hikes is $9 (13 and over); $2 (ages 5-12). Information: 857-1135, ext. 0, or texasstateparks.gov.
? Reservations required for all special events. Admission including tours or hikes is $9 (13 and over); $2 (ages 5-12).
  Reservations are recommended for the self-guided area and for camping: (512) 389-8911.
  North Mountain is available for self-guided day use, for up to 70 people at a time; reservations recommended. There is an annual orientation program for visitors. Guided access is offered to the rest of the site. Picnicking allowed at ten tables closest to headquarters. Wood and charcoal fires are not permitted. Bicycles permitted only on designated paved areas. Pets allowed only in camping or picnic areas. Call for reservations and other information: 857-1135.
  There are campground sites with water and electric hookups, as well as water-only tent sites.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park — The park is about 160 miles east of El Paso, off the Carlsbad Highway (U.S. 62-180). Information: (575) 785-2232 or nps.gov/cave.
  Visitor Center summer hours (through Sept. 2) are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily; tours available 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Last entry into cave via natural entrance is 3:30 p.m. with last entry into cave via elevator 4:45 p.m. (be in line to exit cave b for a walk-in tour and 1-1/2 hours for Big Room tour of the Caverns. Cost is $10 (free or ages 15 and younger). The park’s audio self-guided tour is $3 extra (also available in Spanish).
  Other guided tours are available; call or check website for details.
  Free “bat season” programs continue through mid-October. Daily bat flight talks offered just before sunset at the amphitheater outside the natural entrance. Then — bats willing — visitors are treated to the sunset spectacle of clouds of bats flying out).
  Plan 3-1/2 hours of the cave entrance.
  Night Sky programs begin after the bat flight programs. Hike is 1/2 mile for star walks and 1.5 miles for moon hikes on a rugged desert trail. Dress comfortably (long pants recommended); no open-toed shoes. Bring water, snack, blanket or towel to lie on and red light flashlight. Rangers can provide red light headlamps. Upcoming Star Walks (age 6 and older) are July 28, Aug. 30, Aug. 31 and Sept. 1. and Moon Hikes are Aug. 9-10. Participation is free, but space is limited on a first come, first serve basis. Check availability at the park sign next to the Visitor Center.

White Sands National Monument — The glistening gypsum dunes of White Sands National Monument are about 16 miles southwest of Alamogordo, N.M., on U.S. 70. Park hours are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. through Sept. 14. Visitor Center hours are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Sept. 14. Last entrance is one hour before closing. Entrance fees are $20 per vehicle; $10 per person and $15 per motorcycles. Information: (575) 479-6124, nps.gov/whsa or on Facebook.
  Sunset strolls are offered daily.
  The annual MothaPalooza event is 8 to 11 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2, at the monument’s Dune Life Nature Trail trailhead in honor of National Moth Week. Discover the life that thrives in the dunes and the science behind this otherworldly landscape. Information: (575) 479-6124, ext. 236 or (575) 679-2599, ext. 232; or go to nps.gov/whsa.
  “Skins and Skulls” mammal identification talks are 3 p.m. Sundays.
  A Full Moon Hike is 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 13. Reservations required at Recreation.gov or by call (1-877-444-6777).
  Full Moon Night program is 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 15 with a performance by “Iron Will: 1st Armored Division Old Ironsides Band.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park — 110 miles east of El Paso on the way to Carlsbad, the 86,416-acre park includes the highest point in Texas: Guadalupe Peak, 8,749 feet. Entry fee: $5 for ages 16 and older, good for one week and all trails. Pine Springs Visitor Center hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. Camping is $8 per site per night. Information: (915) 828-3251 or nps.gov.
  The Salt Basin Dunes Day Use Area is now open daily 8 a.m. to 30 minutes after sunset. Located at the east end of Williams Road, east of Dell City.
  Camping for tents and RVs, a nature trail, and ruins of the Butterfield Overland Mail Station are near the Pine Springs center. McKittrick Canyon Visitor’s Center is seven miles east of Pine Springs, and offers nature, canyon and geology trails.
  On the north side of the park, accessible by a 110-mile drive around Carlsbad Caverns, is Dog Canyon Visitor Center and Campground.
  One of the best examples of a Permian Period fossil reef, the national park offers camping and more than 80 miles of trails. Hikes range from easy, wheelchair-accessible nature trails to moderate (level, but rocky) canyon hikes to strenuous mountain hikes.

Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park — 1504 Miehls Drive N., Carlsbad, N.M. Admission: $5 ($3 ages 7-12; free for 6 and under). Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (last entry at 3:30 p.m.). Information: (575) 887-5516 or livingdesertnm.org.
  The zoo features animals native to the Chihuahuan Desert, in natural desert surroundings. A large greenhouse is devoted to succulents and cactus from around the world. The headquarters building includes exhibits on minerals, history, archaeology and other subjects.
  Full Moon Walk is 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16.
  National Association of State Boating Law Administrators hosts its monthly Saturday boating class 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 3 in the zoo’s garden center. Registration. boatnm.com.
  International Vulture Awareness Day activities are 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Aug. 24.

New Mexico State Parks — Day-use fee is $5 when visiting any state park. All programs are free with park entrance, unless otherwise listed. Dress accordingly for all outdoor hikes and events. Information: (575) 744-5998 or nmparks.com.
Leasburg Dam — Radium Springs, two miles off I-25 at Exit 19. Day use hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Information: (575) 524–4068.
  Music in the Stars monthly night sky program hosts live music 6 to 8 p.m. followed by telescope viewing with Astronomical Society of Las Cruces volunteers 8 to 9 p.m. the next to last Saturday of each month. The Aug. 24 program features The Deming Fusiliers.
  Bird ID Tours with volunteer guide CJ Goin is 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 24, starting at the Park Visitor Center. Two-mile walking tour.
• Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park. 5000 Calle del Norte in Mesilla. Information: (575) 523-4398. Audubon Bird Walks are 7:15 a.m. Saturdays, led by park volunteers. Ranger-led Nature Hikes are 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Fitness in Nature walks with the Second Chance Walker Program are 8:30 a.m. every Saturday beginning at the Visitor Center.
• Oliver Lee State Park, Highway 54 south of Alamogordo at the Dog Canyon turnoff. Saturn “Time and Agriculture” viewing is 8 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3.Information: (575) 437-8284. Ranch house tours are 10 to 11 a.m. every Saturday.
• Percha Dam State Park and Caballo Lake State Park, 60 miles north of Las Cruces on Interstate 25. Information: (575) 743-3942 (Percha Dam) or (575) 527-8386 (Caballo Lake). A “Black Bears: The Lone Survivors” presentation on New Mexico’s state mammal for National Wildlife Day is 11 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 7.

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument — 44 miles north of Silver City on NM Highway 15 in the middle of the majestic Gila Wilderness, the first and one of the largest wilderness areas. Entrance fees to the park will no longer be taken starting July 31. Information: (575) 536-9461 or nps.gov/gicl.
  The trail to the cliff dwellings is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. year round. Everyone must be off the trail by 5 p.m. Visitor center is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  Ranger-led 30-minute guided tours of the cliff dwellings are 1 p.m. daily through Labor Day weekend. Trail is moderately strenuous.
  Full moon night hike takes visitors on a tour of the cliff dwellings Saturday Aug. 17. Visitors should bring red-lens flashlights or headlamps. Call for reservations; hikes fill quickly.

Alameda Park Zoo — Alameda Park, 1321 North White Sands Blvd. (U.S. 54/70), Alamogordo. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission: $2.50 ($1.50 ages 3-11 and 60 and older; free for ages 2 and younger). Information: (575) 439-4290, or on Facebook at Alameda Park Zoo-AFOTZ
  The oldest zoo in the Southwest (established in 1898) is part of the park that lines Alamogordo’s main highway. The zoo covers about 12 acres, with about 250 exotic and indigenous animals.
  Reptile presentations hosted by the nonprofit group The Island of Misfit Morphs are 1 to 3 p.m. the first Sunday of each month in the Education Center.

Dripping Springs Natural Area — The recreational area, part of the Organ Mountain-Desert Peaks National Monument, is at the base of the Organ Mountains at the end of Dripping Springs Road (the eastern extension of University Avenue), about 10 miles east of Las Cruces. Gates open 7 a.m. to sunset April through October and 8 a.m. to sunset November through March. Admission: $5 per vehicle. Leashed pets allowed on some trails. Information: (575) 522-1219.

Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park — ?56501 N Jornada Rd, Las Cruces. The park, part of Asombro Institute for Science Education, is northeast of Las Cruces. Park hours are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Information: (575) 524-3334 or asombro.org.
  To get there: Take I-25 in Las Cruces and head east on U.S. 70. Take the Mesa Grande Road exit (at Oñate High School). Make a U-turn under the highway to head west, and stay in the right lane. Turn right (north) on Jornada Road. Follow Jornada Road for 6.4 miles and turn left at the park sign. Follow the entrance road to the parking area and trailhead.
  Asombro Institute for Science Education is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing scientific literacy by fostering an understanding of the Chihuahuan Desert.

Sitting Bull Falls — The scenic area in the Lincoln National Forest is seven miles southwest of NM 137 on Forest Route 276. The 130-foot falls is one of the highest in New Mexico. Features a picnic area and wheelchair-accessible trails. Entry fee: $5 per car (day use only). Information: (575) 885-4181.

Area hiking websites — A variety of organizations in the El Paso/Las Cruces area offers hiking opportunities. Hikes typically are rated as easy, moderate, or strenuous. Solo or new hikers are welcome.
• Meetup.com offers a variety of groups for all activities, including the El Paso hiking meetup club (meetup.com/El-Paso-Hiking) and the Las Cruces hiking meetup club (meetup.com/jornada-hikers)
• Celebrations of Our Mountains now offers an ongoing calendar of hiking and related events at celebrationofourmountains.org/
• Elpasonaturally is a blog by Jim Tolbert on various environmental topics and includes information about Sunrise Hikers morning events. Information: elpasonaturally.blogspot.com or diegotolbert@gmail.com.
• The El Paso chapter of the Sierra Club posts its hikes at sierraclub.org/elpaso.

Chihuahuan Desert Resource Institute — The CDRI center and botanical gardens are four miles south of Fort Davis on Hwy 118. Admission: $5 ($4 seniors 65 and older; free children 12 and younger, members). Information: (432) 364-2499 or cdri.org.

Davis Mountains Preserve — The Nature Conservancy preserve is open to the public on designated days, with no admission fee. No pets allowed. All visitors must sign in at McIvor Conservation Center near the preserve’s entrance. Reservations not required for day use, but strongly encouraged for overnight stays: (432) 426-2390, ext. 1 or dsouth@tnc.org.
  To get there: Take Hwy 118 from Fort Davis to the Lawrence E. Wood picnic area. The preserve gate is about one-quarter mile north of picnic area on left (look for sign).

Chihuahuan Desert Wildlife Rescue — The nonprofit organization that serves West Texas and Southern New Mexico offers resources for those who find a wild bird or mammal in need of help. Information: 772-6011, (575) 882-2910 or cdwr.org.
  Uninjured baby birds may be returned to their nest; the mother will not reject them if humans have touched them. If the nest cannot be found, create one with a basket or container with good drainage that can be attached to the tree so the parent bird may find it. If the bird is injured, contact the rescue immediately.

Community Tool Sheds — Keep El Paso Beautiful, in partnership with Paso del Norte Health Foundation, Home Depot and El Paso Fire Department, offers community tool sheds available at area fire stations. The sheds are stocked with push brooms, shovels, rakes, a gas weed eater, gloves and trash bags for use for cleanup or beautification projects. The items may be borrowed for no charge to the public for community cleanup projects. Information: 546-6742.
  Tool sheds are at 5315 Threadgill, 3801 Fort Blvd., 6500 N. Mesa, 7901 San Jose, 11977 Pellicano, 1801 Montana, 6300 Delta and 10834 Ivanhoe.


 

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