March 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 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.

Wyler Aerial Tramway — The state park tramway, 1700 McKinley, gives passengers a view of Texas, New Mexico and Mexico from Ranger Peak, elevation 5,632 feet. Cost is $8 for adults and $4 for children 12 years and under. Hours are noon to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday through Thursday. Information: 562-9899 or 566-6622.
  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.

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 outings showcase some of natural features of the Las Cruces/El Paso area led by an regional expert in wildlife, plant life, art or other field. Hikes range from easy to strenuous. Bring sturdy shoes, water and a hat. Binoculars recommended. The outings are open to the public, but space is limited; half of slots in each trip reserved for center members. Advance registration required; registration opens three weeks before each hike. Hikes are free, and open to the public. Some minor fees may apply. Information, reservations: (575) 522-5552.
  Hike starting times and details available online at wildmesquite.org.
March 4: Discover the Anthony Gap Cave, Franklin Mountains
March 11: Trek to Achenbach Canyon Cave, Organ Mountains
March 18: Exploring Pena Blanca
March 25: Geological Treasures of Providence Cone, Portillo Mountains
April 1: Wildflowers of Aguirre Springs
April 8: Up Close with the Border Wall, Sunland Park.
April 15: La Mancha BioBlitz.

Step Through Time — “Discover the Historic Treasures of White Sands National Monument” events are Saturday, March 4, in the Visitor Center at White Sands National Monument part of its Step into the Past Series. Two insightful 30-minute programs are featured about little-known aspects White Sands National Monument. Admission is free. Information: (575) 479-6124, ext. 236 or (575) 679-2599, ext. 232; or go to nps.gov/whsa.
  The first program explores the architecture at White Sands National Monument and the construction by New Deal agencies during the 1930’s. Following the program is a tour of the historic roads around the monument.

SunScape Landscape Seminar — UTEP’s Chihuahuan Desert Gardens at the Centennial Museum will host its 2017 landscaping seminar 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, March 11, at the museum, University and Wiggins on the UTEP campus. Participants learn from regional horticultural professionals and tour the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens. RSVP: $35 (class size limited to first 25 participants). Bring a sack lunch. Information: Kaye Mullins, 747-8994, kmullins@utep.edu or museum@utep.edu.

El Paso/Trans-Pecos Audubon Society — The society’s monthly meeting is 7 p.m. Monday, March 20, at the Centennial Museum on the UTEP campus. Speaker to be announced. Information: Scott, 581-6071 or trans-pecos-audubon.com.
  The Society’s bird-watching field trips are open to the public. Bring a lunch, insect repellent and water. Information: Mark Perkins, 637-3521.
• Dripping Springs and Butler Canyon Road departs at 7 a.m. Saturday, March 11, from the southwest corner of the Outlet Shoppes of El Paso. Fee is $5 per car.
• El Paso Archaeology Museum and Hawk Alley, Northeast El Paso meets at 7 a.m. Saturday, March 25, at the museum at 4301 Transmountain, to look for desert birds, including Pyrrhuloxia, Black-throated Sparrow, Cassin’s Sparrow, among others. Drive to Hawk Alley, with a stop at Painted Dunes Golf Course, looking for raptors and other desert birds.
• A Memorial Day weekend trip to Chiricahua Mountains is planned for May 26-29. Call for details.

Vegetable Gardening Workshops — El Paso Master Gardener Association hosts the hand-on gardening workshop 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 25, at Ascarate Park’s Teaching and Demonstration Garden, 6900 Delta The Master Gardeners also will have vegetable seedlings available for purchase. Proceeds benefit the educational programs. Participation is free. Information: 771-2354.

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). Bring water, snacks, sturdy shoes/boots, hiking stick, maps and binoculars. Dogs welcome on leash on some hikes. Reservations required: 566-6441 ext. 221, 224 or adrianna.weickhardt@tpwd.state.tx.us.
  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.
  The 17th Jackrabbit Classic and Javier Arana Jr. Memorial annual trail and road runs are 8 a.m. Sunday, March 26. See Sports listing.

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.
March 4: Old-fashioned Garden Recipes Using Common Household Products
March 11: Create a Hummingbird Habitat
March 25: Bees & Butterflies for Bounty and Beauty. The best gardening practices create an environment beneficial to bees and butterflies.
April 1: Growing Flowers & Vegetables in Pots

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.
• Bird tour is 3 p.m. Sunday, March 5.
• Introductory tour is 3 p.m. Saturday, March 11.
• Community workday is 4 p.m. Saturday, March 18.
• Faunal Monitoring is 8 a.m. Saturday, March 25.
  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.
  Climber’s Clean-Up Day is 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, March 4.
  A talk on “The Women of Hueco Tanks” is 5 p.m. Friday, March 10. Guest speakers from the Tigua tribe will join Hueco Tanks staff, as the women of the tribe remember their time in the park. Space limited to 50 persons.
  A Women’s Only Hike is 9 a.m. Saturday, March 11, for women who are not normally comfortable with the outdoors. One of the female staff discusses some of the common mistakes people make when first starting to hike. Space limited to 25 persons; reservations required: 849-6684.
  Birding tour is 8 a.m. Saturday, March 18, led by Richarch Hermosillo, one of the region’s leading amateur ornithologists. Advance sign-up encouraged; space limited to 25 guests.
  Stargazing is 7 p.m. Thursday, March 23, with stories, and planetary viewing. Binoculars and telescopes welcome; but not required. Space available on first come, first serve basis.
  A “Blew out my flip flop, stepped on a pop top”” Leave No Trace program presentation at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 25. Dr. Kendra Moore presents an amusing journey through the history of beverage cans and their designs. Spaced limited to 50 guests.
  A sunset hike led by staff and volunteers is 6 p.m. Sunday, March 26. There will be 3 tours of varying difficulties. Spaced limited to 60 guests; reservations required.

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 5 p.m. through March 11; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 12-May 14. Park hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. through March 11; 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. March 12-April 22. 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.
  The monthly ranger-guided Lake Lucero Tour is 9 a.m. Saturday, March 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.
  Sunset strolls are offered daily one hour before sunset; 5 p.m. through March 11, and 6:15 p.m. March 12-31.
  “Skins and Skulls” mammal identification talks are 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
  “Discover the Historic Treasures of White Sands National Monument” events are 1 p.m. Saturday, March 4, as part of its 2017 Step Through Time series.
  A Sunrise Photography event is 6 a.m. Saturday, March 18. Join a ranger for this early morning program focused on amateur sunrise photography. Reservations required; program fee is $8 ($4 age 15 and younger).
  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.

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.

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.
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.
  Night Skies at Leasburg monthly night sky programs is 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday, March 18.
• 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 8:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday, March 25, and • Elephant Butte Lake State Park, Information: (575) 744-5923.
  Sailing Regattas are 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 11 and 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 25.
  The annual American Bass Fishing Tournament is 6 a.m. Saturday, March 18, and 25; with the ABA Division 60 Bass Tournament 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, March 25-26.
• 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.
  The 14th annual Camp Furlong Day experience is 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 11, commemorating Villa’s raid on Columbus in 1916.

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 Parties are 7:30 to 9 p.m. Friday, March 17, and 8 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, April 1.

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 7 p.m. Friday nearest the time of the first quarter moon September to May (March 3), weather providing. Programs begin 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.

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. to 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.
• 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.

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 they have been touched by humans. 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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