November 2019

Nature

Menu of this month's listings, stories and columns

Cactus Fest — El Paso Cactus and Rock Club hosts its Cactus Appreciation Celebration 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2, at El Paso Garden Center, 3105 Grant (Memorial Park), with presentations and advice various experts, book and plant sale, door prizes and refreshments. Admission is free. Information: Peter Beste, 755-3558, elpasodesert.com and on Facebook at epcrc.
  Presentation on the Living Rock Cacti at 9:30 a.m., with a cooking demonstration at 10:30 a.m. and “Amazing Cacti from Chile” presentation at 11:30 a.m.

Natural History Outings — Southwest Environmental Center of Las Cruces offers “Back by Noon” field trips departing Saturdays from the center at 275 Downtown Mall, Las Cruces. The family friendly outings are led by a regional expert. Bring sturdy shoes, water and a hat. Binoculars recommended. Hikes are free, and open to the public, but space is limited and advance registration required; registration opens three weeks before each hike. Half of slots in each trip reserved for center members. Some minor fees may apply. Reservations: (575) 522-5552. Information: wildmesquite.org or on Facebook.
Nov. 2: A “Mass Extinctions and Climate Change” hike is 8 a.m. to noon to Prehistoric Track-ways National Monument. Local fossil enthusiast and forensic chemist Jim Enright will take hikers to Prehistoric Trackways National Monument and show hard-to-spot fossils. Climate change will also be discussed. Rocky trail, moderate to difficult hike of about 3 miles.
Nov. 9: “Threats to our Desert Grassland” trip to Otero Mesa is 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. with SWEC Executive Director Kevin Bixby. Learn how the mesa’s ecology and wildlife are threatened by oil and gas development. Wildlife includes pronghorn, raptors and more. Optional moderate hike up the Alamo Mountain to see petroglyphs.
Nov. 16: “WWII Bombing Targets” is 7:30 a.m. to noon. David Soules, a local sportsman and conservation advocate, will lead an outing to Aerial Target #22. The easy-to-moderate 1-mile hike provides a ground level view of what remains of a giant bull’s eye as seen from the air.

Scientist Saturday Morning — A scientist from the Asombro Institute for Science Education hosts a day of exploring and learning about the desert through fun activities for all ages 8 a.m. to noon the first Saturday of each month, at Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park 56501 N. Jornada, in Las Cruces. Admission is free. Information: (575) 524-3334 or asombro.org
  The Nov. 2 theme is “Thankful for Thorns!” with activities focused on the adaptations that allow desert plants and animals to defend themselves. Scavenger hunts and prizes available. Free snacks and refreshments provided.

DinoTracks Tour — Insights Science Center hosts its monthly 3-mile DinoTracks tour 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3, at Mt. Cristo Rey in Sunland Park. Cost: $15 (age 5 and younger free); available at eventbrite; early payment requested; guests can specify if they would like to learn more about animal tracking, dinosaurs, geology or paleontology. Information: 534-0000 or insightselpaso.org.
  Bring water, snacks and sunscreen. Hike is over moderate terrain.

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, Nov. 3, on Directisimo Trail up to the junction and back down.
• Last Sunday hike is 7 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 24, up Directisimo Trail.

Chihuahuan Desert Conference — The CDEC sponsored conference is Nov. 6-8 at El Paso Zoo, 4001 E Paisano, in celebration of the zoo’s new Chihuahuan Desert Exhibit. The event hopes to bring together scientists, students, academics, land managers, and the general public to build relationships and protect treasured public lands for future generations. Registration deadline is Oct. 30. Information: Rick LoBello, 217-4233, lobellorl@elpasotexas.gov or greaterbigbend.org.
  Keynote speaker is El Paso Zoo Animal Curator John Kiseda. Kiseda has been working at the Zoo since 1990 and is responsible for the daily oversight of the Zoo’s diverse animal collection including the new Chihuahuan Desert Exhibit. He also serves as Vice-Coordinator of the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan and is involved in numerous conservation initiatives in the northern Chihuahuan Desert.

‘Christmas Bird Count’ talk — Thomas Branigan Memorial Library, 200 E. Picacho in Las Cruces, will give a free presentation for all ages on the annual Christmas Bird Count at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6, in the Roadrunner Room, presented by Mark Pendleton, of the Mesilla Valley Audubon Society.
Information, registration: (575) 528-4005 or library.reference@las-cruces.org.

‘Call of Life: Facing the Mass Extinction’ — Southwest Environmental Center present the feature documentary that investigates the threat to Earth’s life support systems through biodiversity loss at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12, at NMSU’s Creative Media Institute (Milton Hall) in Las Cruces. Admission is free. Information: (575) 522-5552 or wildmesquite.org.
  Through interviews with leading scientists, psychologists, anthropologists, philosophers, and indigenous and religious leaders, the film explores the causes, the scope, and the potential effects of the mass extinction.

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.
  Zoospecto Patronum wizarding world event is 2 to 8 p.m. Nov. 16, with butter beer, Triwizard Tournament obstacle course, “Hogwarts Express,” and more. Tickets available at the gate.
  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.

El Paso/Trans-Pecos Audubon Society — The society’s general meeting is 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18, at UTEP’s Centennial Museum, 500 W. University. Benny Pol will talk and show images about his “Island Adventures.” Information: Scott, 581-6071, trans-pecos-audubon.com or on Facebook.
  Nonmembers and beginners are welcome to the society’s field trips. Information: Mark Perkins, 637-3521 or trans-pecos-audubon.com.
  The society is planning a birding trip in the Mountains of Colombia, South America Feb. 29-March 9, 2020. Reservations: $200 deposit by Nov. 26.

Festival of the Cranes — The 32nd annual event is Tuesday through Sunday, Nov. 19-24, at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in San Antonio, N.M (near Socorro). Events also are at the Macey Center on the New Mexico Tech Campus in Socorro, and other area locations. Information, schedule: (575) 835-2077 or friendsofthebosque.org.
  Tour loop entry fee for the refuge is waived for private vehicles during the festival.
  The Festival celebrates the yearly return of thousands of sandhill cranes, snow geese, ducks and whooping cranes among the 325 species found at the Bosque.
  The festival schedule includes 140 events, most requiring advance registration, plus the annual expo and wildlife art show and silent auction.
  A variety of birding tours of Bosque del Apache will be offered from dawn to dusk.
  Expo Tent is open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, on the Bosque del Apache Plaza.
  The annual friends dinner is 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21, at Bodega Burger Co. Restaurant, 606 N. California, Socorro. Keynote presentation follows dinner, at 7:30 p.m. featuring Gina Dello Russo. Cost: $37 for dinner; $10 speech.
  Friends Friday Night Keynote Social is 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22, with speaker David La Puma. Cost: $30.

Big Bosque Bird Bash — Friends of the Rio Bosque hosts the free community event 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23, at Rio Bosque Wetlands Park, 10176 Socorro Rd. in El Paso’s Mission Valley, to learn about the river-valley environment through tours, presentations, exhibit and interactive activities. Information: 747-8663 or riobosque.org.

La Mancha Wetland Workday — Southwest Environmental Center hosts a workday 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, Nov. 23, at La Mancha Wetland, Mesilla. Volunteers are needed to remove weeds, perform trail maintenance, trim trees and cattails, install tree fencing, and clear pond debris. Bring a water bottle, gloves, sun protection, work clothes and shoes, and any yard working supplies. Some tools, shade, and water provided. Information: (575) 522-5552 or wildmesquite.org.
  La Mancha is on six acres of land next to the Rio Grande near Mesilla. The project aims to create a habitat and nursery for native fish, native and migratory birds, and mammals, amphibians and reptiles.
  From Picacho of Calle del Norte, take Fairacres Road to Aries. Go south under I-10 to the end of Aries.

Cut down your own Christmas tree — Permits are available for people to cut down their own Christmas tree in designated areas of the Lincoln and Gila National Forests in New Mexico through Dec. 24. Limit is one tree — up to 10 feet in height — per household, and the permit includes a map of areas where cutting is allowed. Permits available to purchase for $5 per tree; special permits available for trees over 10 feet. Applications available at fs.usda.gov.

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.

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.
  A “Yucca: The Desert Multi-Tool” presentation is 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, hosted by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Wyler Aerial Tramway State Park, to learn about the many uses of this desert resource. Meet at Tom Mays Unit. Regular admission applies. Information: 562-9899
  Check website for guided hikes and bike rides. Cost of guided events 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).
  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.

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 tours are 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1.
• Community workday is 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 16.
• Birding tours are 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 24, and 8 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 14.
  Meeting place is a bridge crossing Riverside Canal. Take Americas Ave. (Loop 375) to Pan American Drive, turn left and travel 1.5 miles.
  The Bosque Bird Bash is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23.

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.
  Admission including tours or hikes is $9 (13 and over); $2 (ages 5-12). Reservations also 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 winter hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily; tours available 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Last entry into cave via natural entrance is 2 p.m. with last entry into cave via elevator 3:30 p.m. (be in line to exit cave by 4:30 p.m.).
Cost is $15 (free or ages 15 and younger). Free entrance Monday, Nov. 11 for Veterans Day.
  Other guided tours are available; call or check website for details.

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 8 p.m. through Nov. 2; 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 3-Dec. 31. Visitor Center hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 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.
  “Skins and Skulls” mammal identification talks are 3 p.m. Sundays.
  Hubbell Trading Post will offered Navajo rugs and jewelry will be offered 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 2-3. Rug talks at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. each day, and weaving demonstrations throughout the day.
  Lake Lucero Tours are 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 23 and Dec. 28.

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.

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. Free admission. Information: (575) 536-9461 or nps.gov/gicl.
  Visitor Center hours Nov. 1-Feb. 29 are 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day). Trail is open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; visitor must exhibit monument by 4 p.m.

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.
  Unique Art and Craft Show is 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 2-3.
  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.

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. Night Skies of Leasburg Dam is 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16,
• 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. Information: (575) 437-8284.
  Sunset and night sky viewing of Cygnus and Lyra, featuring Jupiter and Venus, is 4:45 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23.
  • 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).
• Elephant Butte Lake State Park, Information: (575) 744-5923.
• Bottomless Lakes State Park — 13 miles east of Roswell, N.M. via US 380. Information: (575) 624-6058.
• Pancho Villa State Park, Columbus, N.M., State Roads 11 and 9. Day use hours: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Information: (575) 531-2711.
• City of Rocks State Park, off Hwy 61 in Faywood, N.M., about 130 miles west of El Paso. Information: (575) 536-2800.
• Rockhound State Park, five miles south of Deming on State Road 11 and then east on Rockhound Road (State Road 141) for nine miles. Day use hours: 7:30 a.m. to sunset. Information: (575) 546-6182 or (575) 744-5998.
• Brantley Lake State Park, 12 miles north of Carlsbad via U.S. 285. Information: (575) 887-5
  Camping fees at state parks are $8 for primitive site; $10 for developed site (electrical hookup $4 extra).

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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