April 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. Zoo members admitted free. Information: 212-0966 or elpasozoo.org.
  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. “African Star” Train ride tickets are $2 plus tax ($1.50 for children and society members). Asian Elephant Training Encounters scheduled at noon daily.

Natural History Outings — Southwest Environmental Center of Las Cruces offers “Back by Noon” Saturday field trips departing from the center at 275 Downtown Mall, Las Cruces. The family-friendly 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. Information, reservations: (575) 522-5552.
  Hike details available at wildmesquite.org.
April 1: Wildflowers of Aguirre Springs. A botanic stroll along the Pine Tree Trail on the east side of the Organ Mountains with Lisa Mandelkern of the Native Plant Society. Departs at 8 a.m., moderate hike.
April 8: Up Close with the Border Wall, Sunland Park. Kevin Bixby will lead an outing to see the border wall up close in Sunland Park and explain its effects on wildlife such as Mexican wolves, jaguars and even birds. Departs at 8 a.m., easy hike.
April 15: La Mancha BioBlitz. The 2nd annual BioBlitz at SWEC’s La Mancha Wetland along the Rio Grande near Mesilla. Departs at 8 a.m., easy hike.
April 29: Migratory Birds of the Rio Grande Valley. Professional photographer and expert birder Ken Stinnett leads a trip to the Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park, one of southern New Mexico’s best birding spots. Departs at 7:30 a.m., easy hike.
May 5: Reptiles of the Chihuahuan Desert with NMSU professor of herpetology, Niki Harings. Departs at 8:30 a.m.

Hike for the Planet — In partnership with the City of El Paso, Celebration of Our Mountains hosts free events in honor of Earth Month in April. Locations, information: 212-0115 or celebmtns.org
• Hike for the Planet walks are Sunday, April 2, 9 and 30; and Saturday, April 29.
• Scenic Sunday a Walk through Time is 8 a.m. Sunday, April 2, to discover “Giant Fossils of El Paso’s Ocean” on Scenic Drive
• Yoga on the Rocks is 10 a.m. Sunday, April 9.
• Cacti and Other Desert Plants of the Franklin Mountains is 2 p.m. Sunday, April 9.

Gardening 101 — El Paso Master Gardeners will lead it first in a series of free workshops, “The Dirt on El Paso,” 4 to 5:30 p.m. Friday, April 7, at El Paso Multipurpose Center, 9031 Viscount, in partnership with Texas A&M Agrilife Extension and Office of Resilience and Sustainability. Information: 212-0115, gardenep@elpasotexas.gov or on Facebook. Register online at elpasotexas.gov/ORS.
  This workshop will provide information to help plan or improve a garden.

El Paso/Trans-Pecos Audubon Society — The society’s monthly meeting is 7 p.m. Monday, April 17, at the Centennial Museum on the UTEP campus. NMSU professor and ardent nature photographer Nirmal Khandan will present “Birds & Wildlife of Sri Lanka,” his home country. He will share his approach to bird photography and several of his images with behind-the-scene details. Information: Scott, 581-6071 or trans-pecos-audubon.com.
  A Memorial Day weekend trip to Chiricahua Mountains is planned for May 26-29. Information: Mark Perkins, 637-3521.

FloraFest 2017 — The annual native plant sale is 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 29-30, at the UTEP Centennial Museum, Wiggins and University. Hundreds of nursery-grown native trees, shrubs, flowering perennials and other plants will be sold. Proceeds benefit the museum’s Chihuahuan Desert Gardens. Customers may bring their own wagon carts. Admission is free. Information: 747-5565, 747-8994 or museum.utep.edu.

Birdathon — The El Paso/Trans-Pecos Audubon Society is sponsoring its annual weekend of birding and fundraising Saturday and Sunday, May 6-7. This year’s will help benefit El Paso Zoo’s raptor rehabilitation efforts and Second Chance Wildlife Rescue. Volunteers raise money by collecting pledges for each species spotted during the two days. Information: Jane Fowler, 598-2448, Eddie Chew, 587-9589 or trans-pecos-audubon.com.

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 $3 additional fee ($1 ages 5-12; under 5 free). See website for schedule.

Gardening classes — Jackye Meinecke conducts gardening workshops in the Community Room of Mountain View Market Co-op, 1300 El Paseo, in Las Cruces. All classes are 2 to 3 p.m. on selected Saturdays. Cost per workshop: $10 cash; $8 co-op members. Reservations preferred; email to gardens@zianet.com. Information: (575) 323-0903.
April 1: Growing Flowers & Vegetables in Pots
April 15: Succulents for Landscapes & Pots.
April 29: Native and Xeriscape Gardening
May 6: Creating Desert Box Turtle Habitat.

Rio Bosque Wetlands Park — UTEP’s Center for Environmental Resource Management offers free guided walking tours and other activities at Rio Bosque Wetlands Park in El Paso’s Mission Valley. Tours last about two hours. Information: 747-8663 or riobosque.org.
• Introductory tour is 4 p.m. Saturday, April 8.
• Community workday is 8 a.m. Saturday, April 15.
• Bird tour is 8 a.m. Sunday, April 30.
  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.

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). Additional activity cost for tours (including morning hike): $2 (free for age 4 and younger). Information: 857-1135 or texasstateparks.gov. Reservations are recommended for the self-guided area and for camping: (512) 389-8911.
  There is an annual orientation program for visitors.

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 May 14. Park hours are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. through April 22; 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. April 23-May 27. 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.
  A Full Moon Bike Ride is 8 p.m. Saturday, April 8. Dress warmly. Reservations begin one month in advance; space limited. Reservations via nps.gov/whsa. Fee is $8 per person; $4 ages 15 and younger, plus park entrance fee.
  The monthly ranger-guided Lake Lucero Tour is 9 a.m. Sunday, April 23, 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.
  Sunset strolls are offered daily one hour before sunset; 6:30 p.m. April 1-21; 6:45 p.m. April 22-May 12.
  Full Moon Hike is 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, May 9. Reservations required (starting April 9); online only. Cost: $8; $4 age 15 and young, plus monument entrance fees.

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.

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.

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.
  Star Party is 8 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, April 1.
  Earth Day Festival is 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, April 22, with U.S. Forest Service free tree seedling giveaway, Party for the Planet children’s activities, “A Taste of the Living Desert,”New Mexico authors, raffles and more. Vendors also open Sunday, April 23.
  The first Full Moon Walk of the year is 7:30 to 9 p.m. Saturday, May 6.

New Mexico State Parks — Day-use fee is $5 when visiting any state park. Camping fees: $8 for primitive site; $10 for developed site (electrical hookup $4 extra). All programs are free with park entrance, unless otherwise listed. Information: (575) 744-5998 or nmparks.com.
• 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.
  Star party is 8:45 to 10 p.m. Saturday, April 22.
  The annual Desert Alive event is 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 8, with plant walk, exhibits of live birds of prey demonstration, native plant sale.
• Elephant Butte Lake State Park, Information: (575) 744-5923.
  Sailing Regattas are 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 8 and May 6; and 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday, April 22.
  The annual American Bass Fishing Tournament is 6 a.m. Saturday, April 8.
  A Boating Safety Class is 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 15.
• Oliver Lee State Park, Highway 54 south of Alamogordo at the Dog Canyon turnoff. Information: (575) 437-8284.
• 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.
• Percha Dam State Park, 60 miles north of Las Cruces on Interstate 25. Information: (575) 743-3942.
• Caballo Lake State Park, 60 miles north of Las Cruces on Interstate 25. Information: (575) 527-8386.
  An Easter Egg hunt is 10 a.m. to noon Sunday, April 16.
  A Star Party is 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, April 29.

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.

Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park — 5000 Calle del Norte in Mesilla. All events free with park admission, unless listed otherwise. Hours are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday; call for seasonal variations. Day use fee: $5 per vehicle ($40 annual pass). 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.
  Bring binoculars, water, sunscreen; wear hiking shoes.

Tombaugh Observatory — NMSU’s Tombaugh Observatory in Las Cruces hosts open house at Friday nearest the time of the first quarter moon September to May (April 7), weather providing. Program begins at 9 p.m. with a short presentation, followed by guided observing through telescopes. Information: (575) 646-4438, or (575) 646-6278 to confirm the observatory will be open that evening.

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.
  The 23rd annual Community Earth Day Fair is 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 29. Admission is free.

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. 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.
  April through September the entrance gate is open 8 a.m. to 7 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.

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.
• Outdoorelpaso.com offers an interactive map, of El Paso County hiking and running trails, calendar of events and more. Information: 546-2098 or epcounty.com.

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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