Wet ‘n Wild

It’s Monday of week two. Texas has been acting a little strangely! I’ve seen more downpours and thunderstorms this week than I’ll probably see in the next nine. Next week I’ll be accompanying Dave Larson (pictured) to the small town of Boquillas in Mexico, where we are meeting with CONANP (the Mexican National Park Service equivalent) over the course of two days to discuss the next steps in the Sister Park Vital Signs Monitoring Program. I have put together the agenda for the meeting, and sent it out in English and Spanish for review by the various participants before I finalize it. This project is why I’m excited about the job; I get to dive into a super interdisciplinary applied topic involving issues of conservation science, natural resource management, international politics, migration (both human and not), history, and many other disciplines. So far every day has been different, and that’s something I’m grateful for. This past Saturday I made it out to Alpine for a grocery run, and had a bit of a shock as I’ve never before been in a true food desert. Don’t let the desert desert scare you; it’s the prices on fresh produce and just about everything else that should scare you. However, all is good back at the park. I feel decently settled in and have turned to a stricter daily routine than I’ve ever held before to keep things in order, as time seems to slip and slide right by you in weird ways when you’re all the way out here. Today I got to drive out to Castolon with Dave, and saw the Rio Grande (Río Bravo in Mexico) for the first time. While there I saw firsthand the effects of a successful biological control effort on highly invasive salt cedar (Tamarix ramosissima). In 2012 the National Park Service released a specialized beetle that only eats salt cedar, and now nearly all the trees are stressed or dying. An interesting contrast to so many of the failed biological control cases you read about online and study in class. Here’s a picture of a praying mantis which is unrelated to the salt cedar efforts, but is my favorite insect.

My first view of the Rio Grande at Santa Elena Canyon

I’ve also learned how to play pickleball; pickleball is not to be underestimated. It’s all good and fun until our office staff steps on court and it’s game time. On the more leisurely side of things, I’ve taken to biking down the road (there’s really only two roads) for sunset every day, which has been a great way to mentally close out the day. Sunsets here have been pretty good.
The view of a sunset while riding a bicycle just West of Panther Junction.

Each day I choose which way I want to ride for my sunset view, left or right. (left this time)

This week I’ll just be working hard to make sure this meeting with CONANP comes together smoothly. Travel and gear logistics, presenters, participants, discussion topics; the whole nine miles. It’s time to heat up the bricks.    

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