About the Park

Flora and Fauna

    At this point, the park grounds — the culmination of an earlier wetlands restoration project promoted by the Southwest Environmental Center and Las Cruces — boast about a mile of trails. These lead through a floodplain grassland, a riverside mixed woodland and, along the river basin's western escarpment, Chihuahuan Desert scrubland.

    In the floodplain grassland, with its heavily saturated soils, the century-old Picacho irrigation drainage ditch (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) and several excavated ponds, you will find a variety of native wetland plants. These include, for instance, saltgrass, wolfberry, bulrushes, cattails and reeds and even a few (mostly planted) cottonwoods and willows. Unfortunately, you will also find dense stands of that aggressive invader, the saltcedar, or tamarisk, growing primarily in the sandier soils.

    In the mixed woodland, between the river bank and the higher scrubland, you will find occasional cottonwoods and willows as well as native plants such as screwbean and honey mesquites, three-leaf sumac, Torrey's wolfberry and four-wing saltbush.

    You will also find, unfortunately, still more dense stands of saltcedar.   In the scrubland, you will discover signature Chihuahuan Desert plants such as honey mesquites, four-wing saltbush, ephedra and various cacti.

    Potentially, according to natural scientist Robert Sivinski's 2005 vegetation survey of the park area, you might even find within its boundaries a variety of unusual plant species such as the night-blooming cereus, the dune prickly pear, the Pecos sunflower or even the rare Scheer's beehive cactus.

    Along the drainage ditch and ponds, you stand a good chance of seeing numerous water-loving wildlife species, including, for example, ducks, herons, red-winged blackbirds, muskrats and possibly even newly re-established beaver. Throughout the park, you will come across birds such as various raptors, ravens, roadrunners, Gambel's quail, pyrrhuloxia, curve-billed thrashers, western kingbirds, black-chinned hummingbirds and many others. (The park's bird list has already reached about 175 species.) You will frequently see mammals such as ground squirrels, black-tailed jackrabbits and desert cottontails, and with good luck, you may even see a javelina, raccoon, coyote or bobcat (most likely, in the early morning or late afternoon). 


The historic Picacho waterway provides an important source of water to sustain a variety of flora and fauna in the park.

Outdoor Recreation
    Even as the park is being transformed, it offers special opportunities for recreation and fun. Already park rangers and volunteers offer regularly scheduled tours for birders regular and for native-plant enthusiasts. Rangers and volunteers have plans to build strategically located blinds for birders and wildlife photographers. Scouts are contributing by building bird perches just north and east of the visitor center.

      In the interest of protecting the wildlife and native plant communities, the park has been declared off limits for off-road vehicles, bicycles, horses and pets.


Education
   
     The park — with its floodplain grassland, mixed woodland, desert scrubland and classroom facilities — provides an ideal venue for environmental education, especially for young people. Working together, park rangers, public school teachers and students have already initiated several multi- disciplinary programs and professional development workshops. Many of these have been based on the Bosque Education Guide (Lower Rio Grande Edition), a detailed instruction book prepared by educators and New Mexico State Parks.
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