Dripping Springs Visitors Center Garden Enhancements
In 2023, the Jack and Martha Carter Conservation Fund awarded a grant to the Friends of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks (“Friends”) for maintenance and upgrades to the Dripping Springs Visitors Center Garden in the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. The Las Cruces Chapter (the “Chapter”) of the Native Plant Society of New Mexico partnered with the Friends to provide plant expertise and volunteers to design and implement the garden upgrades.
With the grant funds and support from the Friends and the Chapter, the garden, which was in significant decline since it had received no supplemental watering and little maintenance for over a year, is now greatly improved with lots of sweat equity and the addition of 35 plants, including 13 species of native plants. A Scarlet Bugler (Penstemon barbatus) in bud was added to the garden in August. By September it was in full bloom and attracted numerous hummingbirds. Nearly all species are native to Dona Ana County. Since very few native plant nurseries exist near Las Cruces, many of these plants were purchased from nurseries as far away as Boulder, Colorado, Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Alpine, Texas. Additionally, the outer cacti garden has been redesigned and dozens of native cacti have been added.
Many repairs and upgrades were made to the garden infrastructure throughout the year. These include repairing leaks and extending existing drip lines throughout the garden and adding and adjusting emitters to areas where new plants were installed. Many overgrown and dead plants were removed as well as extensive weeding throughout the garden.
The water feature was repaired by upgrading the plumbing to the garden, replacing parts to the float and sealing the bowl above the “falls”. The sound of water flowing over the rocks once again is attracting a diversity of wildlife and brings joy and peace to garden visitors.
Special thanks to the Jack and Martha Carter Conservation Fund for making this happen.
Lesser Long- nosed Bats and Agave Research
In conjunction with The Gila Chapter of the Native Plant Society of New Mexico and Bat Conservation International (BCI), the Las Cruces Chapter, along with the Mesilla Valley Audubon Society, collected eDNA from hummingbird feeders to test for the presence of the vulnerable Lesser Long-nosed Bat (Leptonycteris yerbabuenae) and other potential species, important pollinators of agaves. BCI provided our Chapter with eDNA test kits for members to help ascertain the species of bats (if any) that visited hummingbird feeders in Dona Ana County. The samples have been turned over to BCI. We look forward to getting the results and having additional data collection opportunities
Las Cruces Chapter participation in BLM Review Process for new Resource Management Plan (RMP) for the Organ Mountains – Desert Peak National Monument (OMDPNM)
The Las Cruces Chapter has been — and continues to be — an active participant in the Bureau of Land Management – Las Cruces District’s (BLM-LC) process to draft a new Resource Management Plan (RMP) for the Organ Mountains – Desert Peak National Monument (OMDPNM).
Members from the NPS-LC Chapter attended the in-person meeting on July 12 where we noted that NPSNM-LC was considered as a stakeholder in the process. Subsequently, a committee from NPSNM-LC wrote and submitted two responses to the BLM, the first to comment on the July 12 general presentation and the second to the special socioeconomic workshop. We addressed the importance of conservation, restoration, and scientific management priorities with an emphasis on targeted data collection, monitoring of native plants, restoration, as well as exclosures and restricted consumptive uses, especially where ecosystem conditions have been degraded. We quoted BLM’s data from the scoping documents as well as from published scientific studies to underscore a history of damage caused by poor grazing practices in the Southwest, and locally, as well as potential harm along trails and sensitive areas from increased recreational use. We also recommended that ecological economics should assess more fully ecosystem services such as biodiversity, clean air, and water quality in addition to the current focus on recreation and grazing. Our Chapter Board sent the response from the public meeting on July 12 to Chapter members so that they could review and use it as they felt appropriate in their individual comments to the BLM during the scoping period.
The BLM plans to release a draft RMP and invite additional public comments at that time. The NPSNM-LC chapter will participate with a review of that document and send additional comments. To request copies of the NPSNM-LC’s written responses to the BLM thus far, please send an email to the Chapter’s Board to lc “at” npsnm “dot” org.