Kuenzler's HedgehogThis Conservation section serves to supply members with information on issues pertaining to the conservation of native plants and habitats on public and private lands in New Mexico. We offer this information to assist interested individuals in learning about the laws, agencies and programs involved in plant related issues. Involvement provides the catalyst for change that can benefit our native heritage.

Most importantly, you can help protect New Mexico’s flora by contributing to The Jack and Martha Carter Conservation Fund.

Conservation Committee Contact:

Rachel Jankowitz  NPSNMconservation “at”

Conservation topics/databases

Articles and press releases

New Mexico Contacts

Riparian Restoration for Native Plants on the Rio Grande

“Riparian Restoration for Native Plants on the Rio Grande,”  presented by Valerie Williams of the Taos BLM office.  Her presentation will cover education on riparian ecosystems, including native and non-native vegetation issues, migratory birds, the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher. and a noxious weed removal project with emphasis on salt cedar and woody species control on the Bureau of Land Management’s Rio Grande Gorge Recreation Area. Wednesday, Sept. 28, 7pmin the boardroom of Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, 118 Cruz Alta Rd, Taos

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Desert Blooms and Marathon Moths – Plants are Cool, Too!

Giant hawk moths fly for miles each night in search of flower nectar — and are thus critically important as pollinators of desert wildflowers. Dr. Chris Martine joins Krissa Skogen (Chicago Botanic Garden) in New Mexico’s White Sands National Monument and finds plant romance happening by the light of the full moon.

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Robert DeWitt Ivey: 1923–2013

vivian and dewittOf those who cherish the plants native to the Land of Enchantment, there are few unaffected by the small and simple word IVEY. Thousands have paged through his Flowering Plants of New Mexico while puzzling over a plant in the field. For all of us, his passing on June 23 was a sobering tragedy. As I write this, I place him among the greatest souls I have known, the consummate gentleman, the softest purveyor of knowledge, always unwilling to be special.

 Robert DeWitt Ivey was born on October 8, 1923, in Tampa, Florida, but the Iveys actually lived in Plant City, about 15 miles east of Tampa. When he was five, his father accepted a job as a newspaper editor in Jacksonville, and the family relocated. There, young Ivey attended public schools, but the process of education was always under his own management. Early on he became fascinated with reptiles, animals, and birds. By the time he graduated from Robert E. Lee High School, he also knew that he had a quiet passion for drawing and art. The future was inescapable.

In 1941 he enrolled at Florida Southern College (now Florida Southern University) in Lakeland, Florida, just five miles east of Plant City. That December the United States entered World War II. DeWitt was ineligible for service because of his height (6’8″). In the fall of 1943, he transferred to the University of Florida at Gainesville, planning to major in English. Later in his junior year, after a chance meeting with a mammalogist, he decided to take extra courses in order to graduate with a double major, English and biology. In the spring of 1945 he graduated magna cum laude. He was valedictorian of his class and became a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He stayed on at Florida and in the spring of 1947 received a Master of Science degree in mammalogy.

That summer he decided to seek employment. After sending out a number of applications, he received a job offer from the University of New Mexico and was intrigued by the prospect. For two academic years he served as an instructor in the biology department there, but felt a need to pursue a PhD. He spent a year in graduate school at the University of Michigan but chose not to continue his studies. After a year at the College of Charleston in South Carolina, he became homesick for New Mexico and by the fall of 1951 was teaching biology at Albuquerque High School. In 1959 he transferred to Sandia High, also in Albuquerque, where he taught biology for the next 31 years.

He loved to take his students on field trips to study and trap mammals, but concerns about potential health problems became a limitation and he began concentrating on plants. He began making study units for his students with his own illustrations. In 1982 he married Vivian Porter. In 1983 they put together the first edition of Flowering Plants of New Mexico. Over the years they traveled all over the state collecting and studying plants. Four more editions of the book appeared, culminating in the fifth in 2008. Flowering Plants of New Mexico is by far the most consulted plant reference in the state. Countless fresh and tattered copies rest in the hands of plant enthusiasts all over New Mexico.

He officially retired from the classroom in 1990. He donated his extensive mammal collection to UNM. His bird collections went to Adams State College in Alamosa, Colorado. Recognition of his achievements and contributions began even before his retirement. In 1963, he was designated Science Teacher of the Year for New Mexico by the National Science Teachers Association. The following year, the NSTA selected him as Science Teacher of the Year for Region 7 (a five-state area containing NM). In 1993 the New Mexico Chapter of The Nature Conservancy awarded him with their Aldo Leopold Conservation Award. In 1995 he was given the Sigma Xi award for his dedication to the teaching of science. In Santa Fe in 2003, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson formally recognized his decades of contributions to science and teaching in the state. NPSNM presented him with a lifetime membership in honor of his efforts.

Robert DeWitt Ivey always chose to adore the process of living and to grasp each moment fully. Tales abound. He built a catamaran to sail the lakes of New Mexico. He dabbled in taxidermy. He taught ballroom dancing. He developed his own style of mammal trap. He spent the decades since his “retirement” working to make the vast natural universe real and accessible for those around him. He gave countless talks all around the state and was always willing to help others with identification of their plants. In 2012, in conjunction with Dr. Kelly Allred of New Mexico State University, he published Flora Neomexicana III: An Illustrated Identification Manual, a book that allows botanists to determine the genus and species of any vascular plant known in New Mexico.

His mark on the natural history of this state is indelible.

Gene Jercinovic

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New Curator announced at NMSU Herbarium

The Department of Biology and College or Arts and Sciences (NMSU) are pleased to announce the recent hire of Dr. Patrick Alexander into a half-time postdoctoral position as curator of the Department’s Herbarium (NMC).   This two year position and University support for the herbarium is, in part, the result of many years of donations to the herbarium endowment and current use accounts.  In particular, donations from numerous individuals and organizations made a big difference in the University’s decision to open such a position.  We would like to thank these individuals and organizations (particularly the statewide NPSNM as well as the Otero and Las Cruces Chapters) for their support and hope that you will all be pleased to see the outcome of this generosity.

This development means that we can now offer public open hours for herbarium access to facilitate plant identification, botanical research related activities, literature use, and outreach activities to the region.   The herbarium will now be open to the public from 8:30am to 5pm on Mondays and Tuesdays.  However, as there may be days when Patrick is out of the museum or when school groups are occupying much of the collection, it is still best to contact Patrick or myself if you plan on traveling to Las Cruces to use the herbarium.  More information about the herbarium, use of the collection, and visitation can be found on

Many thanks,

Donovan Bailey

Dept of Biology Herbarium, NMSU

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Holy Ghost Ipomopsis update

Holy Ghost Ipomopsis (Ipomopsis sancti-spiritus) – a 2012 update (by Jim McGrath)

Holy Ghost ipomopsis, photo by Phil Tonne

Holy Ghost ipomopsis, photo by Phil Tonne

On July 29, 2012 I joined state Division of Forestry botanist Daniela Roth, former state Division of Forestry botanist Bob Sivinski, UNM rare plant botanist Phil Tonne and 3 others at 2 sites of the 2011 Holy Ghost ipomopsis plantings in Holy Ghost Canyon adjacent to the Pecos Wilderness. These plantings are part of the recovery program for this federally listed endangered species.  I can report that our half day visit clearly indicated that the plantings we made in 2011 were doing quite well. The majority of the plantings were in flower at the time of our visit. Our purpose on this visit was to prepare a seedbed for certain portions of the plantings. As part of the recovery program for this endangered species we needed to remove the organic material (litter and duff layers) so that mineral soil would be exposed. In nearby areas of this “experiment” the organic material remained untouched.  Botanical researchers want to know under what conditions the Holy Ghost ipomopsis reproduces best. Does mineral soil enhance germination and successful reproduction?  Does the organic material (litter and duff) inhibit or encourage successful germination and reproduction? The ecology of this endangered species is discussed in detail by Phil Tonne in an article published in the Newsletter in 2011*.

Later in August Daniela documented more thoroughly the response from the 2011 plantings. She found that 84% of the 640 plants planted at the two 2011 treatment sites were alive in 2012. And 92% of those surviving plants were flowering. A total of 57% of the survivors were browsed in the 2 plots. Deer are presumed to be the browsing culprit, but elk or rabbits may be involved. There were no tracks or droppings observed.

Just because a plant is in flower does not necessarily mean it is reproducing. The flowers need to produce seeds. Because of the large degree of browsing impacts observed in August 2012 and the associated late flowering of plants that compensated for the browsing damage, Daniela returned to the two study sites in late September to determine the number of adult plants that had mature or maturing seed capsules.  Only 52% of the total number of flowering plants produced mature or maturing capsules on one site, while 94% of the total number of flowering plants produced mature or maturing capsules at the second site.

According to Daniela more study is needed to determine what effect browsing has on the production of mature seeds.

*Tonne, P. 2011. “Painting the Canyon Pink: Efforts to Recover the Endangered Ipomopsis sancti-spiritus.” Newsletter of the Native Plant Society of New Mexico Vol. XXXVI No. 4: 6-7.


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