November 2017

Nature

Menu of this month's listings, stories and columns

El Paso Zoo — 4001 E. Paisano. Zoo Entrance hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Zoo 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. Closed Nov. 23 for Thanksgiving. Zoo members admitted free. Information: 212-0966 or elpasozoo.org.
  Boo at the Zoo is 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 28-29.
  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.
  The El Paso Zoo is a 35-acre home to 228 species of animals. About 420 mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds, 106 fish and 294 invertebrates live in a variety of natural habitat exhibits including a Reptile House, South American Pavilion, Americas Aviary, Cisneros Paraje, Birds of Prey Exhibit, Forest Atrium, Asian Grasslands and an Elephant Complex, and the Kalahari Research Station energy exhibit.

Celebration of Our Mountains — For more than 20 years, the celebration has included hiking, biking, birding, climbing, photographing, geocaching, studying and celebrating the natural wonders of the Borderland. For a full line-up of events, visit celebrationofourmountains.org.

El Paso Cactus and Rock Club — The club’s 80th Anniversary and cactus appreciation event is 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4, at El Paso Garden Center, 3105 Grant (Memorial Park). Succulent plant related educational programs and a cactus and succulent plant sale. Refreshments served. Admission is free. Information: 755-3558 or elpasodesert.com/EPCRC.

Journey through Time at Lake Lucero — Accompany rangers and living history actors from the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 4, on a journey through the 10,000 years of human habitation in the Tularosa Basin, concluding this season of White Sands National Monument’s Step Into the Past Series. 
  Lake Lucero is the source of the gypsum that forms White Sands National Monument.
  The four-hour program begins at 9 a.m. Along the hike to Lake Lucero, colorful characters such as celebrated author Eugene Manlove Rhodes and renowned photographer Ansel Adams will share the rich history of the basin. Program fee: $8 for 16 years and older, $4 for children. Reservations are required and will be accepted starting Oct. 4 at nps.gov/whsa. All tour reservations must be made through the website. 
  The trail is uneven, rocky, and has a grade of 2-3 percent. See website for details.

Otero Mesa Field Tours — Southwest Environmental Center hosts free educational outings to Otero Mesa, some of Southern New Mexico’s most stunning wilderness, Saturdays, Nov. 4 and Dec. 2. Transportation and lunch provided; space is limited. Information, RSVP: peter@wildmesquite.org (575) 522-5552.

Festival of the Cranes — The 30th annual event is Tuesday through Sunday, Nov. 14-19, at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge near Socorro, N.M. 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.
  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 about 100 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 Wednesday afternoon, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Saturday, and 7:30 a.m. to noon Sunday.
  The annual friends dinner is 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16, at Bodega Burger Co. Restaurant, 606 N. California, Socorro. Keynote presentation follows dinner, at 7:30 p.m. featuring Refuge Manager Kevin Cobble. Cost: $37 for dinner; $10 speech.
  A Wildlife Zone family fun event is Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 18-19, with kid-friendly activities, workshops and tours.

El Paso/Trans-Pecos Audubon Society —  The society’s monthly meeting is 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 20, at the Centennial Museum on the UTEP campus. Lois Balin, Urban Wildlife Biologist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, will present her field work and research with “Burrowing Owls in Rio Bosque Wetlands Park.” Information: Scott, 581-6071 or trans-pecos-audubon.com.
  Field trips are open to the public. Information: Mark Perkins, 637-3521 or trans-pecos-audubon.com.
• Ascarate Lake field trip to look for raptors, herons, egrets, diving ducks and mergansers departs at 7 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 11, from Office Depot front entrance, Bassett Place. Nominal fee per car.
• Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Rescue overnight trip is Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 2-3, to look for sandhill cranes and snow geese. Call for details.

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 mid-November 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.
  Forest officials advise people to check weather and road conditions before entering the forest. Tree-cutters should dress appropriately, take a vehicle suitable for the area and leave information at home where they are going. Maps of tree-cutting areas available at each ranger station.
  Mail-in permit applications are available in El Paso at the Chamber of Commerce, Chamizal National Memorial, and most southern New Mexico communities, and many other locations; allow 7 to 14 days for processing. Applications must be received by Dec. 14. Applications available online at fs.usda.gov.
  Lincoln National Forest; call for hours.
• Alamogordo (Supervisor’s office), 3463 Las Palomas, (575) 434-7200.
• Cloudcroft (Sacramento), Hwy 82 and Curlew, (575) 682-2551.
• Ruidoso (Smokey Bear), 901 Mechem, (575) 257-4095.
• Carlsbad (Guadalupe), 114 S. Halagueno, (575) 885-4181. Not open Saturday dates.
Gila National Forest:
  Trees may be cut from late November to Christmas Eve.
  All offices are open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.
• Silver City (Supervisor’s Office), 3005 E. Camino del Bosque, (575) 538-2771.
• Mimbres Ranger Station, NM Hwy 35, (575) 536-2250.
• Black Range, 1804 Date St., Truth or Consequences, (575) 894-6677.
• Glenwood Office, Hwy 180 in Glenwood, (575) 539-2481.
  Non-traditional holiday season trees (century plant, agave, and yucca stalks) may be obtained with a Decorative Material permit.

Wyler Aerial Tramway — 1700 McKinley. Information: 562-9899 or 566-6622. The next last Sunday hike is 8 a.m. Nov 26, up Ranger Peak. Meet in the parking lot for the 1-mile hike. 
  Wyler Aerial Tramway State Park is managed by Texas Parks & Wildlife and is also part of Franklin Mountains State Park. To get there: Take Alabama to McKinley and turn toward the mountain.

Franklin Mountains State Park — Most hiking and mountain-biking 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 for a $5 additional fee (free for age 12 and younger). Hikes begin at 8 a.m. Bring water, snacks, sturdy shoes/boots, hiking stick, maps and binoculars. Dogs welcome on leash on some hikes. RSVP required: 566-6441 (8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday).
  All listed hikes meet at Tom Mays area.
• Saturday, Nov. 4: Peak Fitness Challenge at North Mt. Franklin Peak
• Sunday, Nov. 5: Nature Walk
• Saturday, Nov. 18: Mundy’s Gap
• Sunday, Nov. 19: Upper Sunset and Tom Mays trail
  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. 11, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3.
• Community workday is 8 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 18.
• Bird tours are 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 19, and 8 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 9.
  Meeting place is a bridge crossing Riverside Canal. Take Americas Ave. (Loop 375) to Pan American Drive, turn left and travel 1.5 miles.

Municipal Rose Garden — The garden at 3418 Aurora (at Copia) is open to the public 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily late March through November, except for official holidays. The 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, 541-4331.

Keystone Heritage Park and El Paso Desert Botanical Garden — 4200 Doniphan (across from Frontera). Hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Admission: $3 (free for members). Information: 584-0563, keystoneheritagepark.org or elpasobotanicalgardens.org.
  The park’s 2-acre Botanical Garden, funded by the Rotary Club of El Paso and the Junior League, features native plants, amphitheater, butterfly garden, wedding garden, children’s maze, and a Butterfly House.  
  Keystone Heritage Park has 189 species of migratory and local birds, and a 4,500-year-old archaeological site.
  The site is open for bird watching 9:30 a.m. to noon the second and last Saturday of the month.
  Keystone’s Chihuahuan Desert Experience (immediately west of the wetland) is open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for walking and bird watching.

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.
  Bring water, hiking shoes and sunscreen for all daytime events:
Special events (space is limited; reservations required):
• Birding hike is 7:30 a.m. third Saturday of the month (Nov. 18).
• Constellation tour is 8-10 p.m. the fourth Thursday of the month (Nov. 23).
  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, 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.  
  Winter hours: Visitor Center open 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.).
  Plan 3-1/2 hours 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.

White Sands National Monument — The glistening gypsum dunes are about 15 miles southwest of Alamogordo, N.M., on U.S. 70. Visitor Center hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Nov. 4; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 5-Dec. 16. Park hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Nov. 4; 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 5-Dec. 24. Entrance fee: $5 age 16 and older. Free for children. Information: (575) 479-6124, ext. 236 or (575) 679-2599, ext. 232; or go to nps.gov/whsa.
  Sunset strolls are offered daily one hour before sunset: 5:15 p.m. through Nov. 4; 4 p.m. Nov. 5-Jan. 5.
  Journey through Time at Lake Lucero with rangers and living history actors from the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum is 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 4
  Ranger-guided Lake Lucero Tour is 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 25, to learn about the formation of the sands and the special plants and animals that live in and around the dunes. Program fee is $8 ($4 age 15 and younger); reservations required and available one month prior to tour.
  “Skins and Skulls” mammal identification talks are 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

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.

New Mexico State Parks — Day-use fee is $5 when visiting any state park. All programs are free with park entrance, unless otherwise listed. Information: (575) 744-5998 or nmparks.com.
• Oliver Lee State Park, Highway 54 south of Alamogordo at the Dog Canyon turnoff. Information: (575) 437-8284.
  Ranch House Tours of Lee’s early 19th century home are 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 4, 11, 18 and 25, and 3 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 5, 12, 19, and 26.
  A night sky viewing of the Andromeda Galaxy is 5 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18.
• 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.
Leasburg Dam — 12712 State Park Road in Radium Springs, two miles off Interstate 25 at Exit 19. Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. for day use. Information: (575) 524–4068.
  A History of Nature and Man hike at LDSP is 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28.
  Mammoths to Mescaleros guided hike is 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 1 and 22.
  A Native American Month celebration and guided hike is 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 8, to learn about the Native American inhabitants of the area from the present to the Pleistocene.
  Night Skies viewing is 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday Nov. 11.
  A “Which Came First? River or Valley” hike is 10 a.m. t 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 25.
• City of Rocks State Park, off Hwy 61 in Faywood, N.M., about 130 miles west of El Paso. Information: (575) 536-2800.
  Star Party is 5:30 to 7:45 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18.
  Nature Hike look for birds and wildlife is 8 to 10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 30.

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 fee: $5 per person; $10 per family. 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.

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. 
   Holiday Bells music performed by The Touch of Joy Ringers is 11 a.m. to noon Saturday, Dec. 2.
  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.

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.
  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.

Aguirre Spring Campground — The Organ Mountain recreational area, run by the federal Bureau of Land Management, is off U.S. 70 about 15 miles east of Las Cruces. Fifty-five family camping and picnic sites, plus two group areas. Day-use fee is $3 per vehicle.  
  The Baylor Pass (hiking and horseback riding) and Pine Tree (hiking) trails begin at the campground. Information, group reservations: (575) 525-4300.

Dripping Springs Natural Area — The recreational area 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. The area, run by the federal Bureau of Land Management in cooperation with the Nature Conservancy, includes the A.B. Cox Visitors’ Center, several hiking trails, and La Cueva Picnic Area. October through March the entrance gate is open 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Admission is $3 per vehicle. No pets allowed (except for assistance animals). Information: (575) 522-1219.

Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park — The park, part of Asombro Institute for Science Education, is northeast of Las Cruces, off Jornada Road. 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 Nature Club — Seven El Paso sites participate in the new club helping area residents connect to the location natural environment, and learn more about Chihuahuan Desert area plants and animals. Membership is free to all ages.
  To join, persons need to visit one of the Nature Club’s Chihuahuan Desert Hot Spots, pick up a flier, and get a stamp. Once they have visited at least three of the seven participating Hot Spots, show stamped flier and receive an official Chihuahuan Desert Nature Club sticker. Sign up available online at chihuahuandesert.org.
   Participating locations: Chamizal National Memorial, Don Haskins Recreation Center Nature Trail, El Paso Zoo, Franklin Mountains State Park (Tom Mays Unit), Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site, Rio Bosque Wetlands Park, and Wyler Aerial Tramway State Park. Admission fees apply at some sites.

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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