We are helping to plan the Chihuahuan Desert Conference at the El Paso Zoo, November 6-9, 2019.
By Rick LoBello
An old timer once said that if you live west of the Pecos River more than 6 weeks you will never want to leave. He was right. When I moved to Alpine, Texas in 1974 to work on my Master’s degree at Sul Ross State University I began a journey that 44 years later I am still on today, discovering and taking a stand for the conservation and preservation of Chihuahuan Desert. Over all these years I have learned to love this rugged desert landscape and the complex desert mountain ecosystem. The 17 years I spent working in the Big Bend Country first as a student, then as a park ranger, research scientist, interim pastor and executive director, helped me to develop a very strong passion for wanting to help protect this area from the often times careless actions of humanity. I want everyone reading this to think about and perhaps sign up in some way to help with what I think could turn out to be the most important conservation project I have ever worked on. It’s called the Greater Big Bend Coalition (GBCC), a new organization dedicated to conserving the broader wilderness of the region including the Franklin Mountains, desert areas in southern New Mexico and northern Mexico and Big Bend National Park, America’s best-preserved example of the Chihuahuan Desert. We have included El Paso and all of the related lands in the northern Chihuahuan Desert as part of the Greater Big Bend because of all the interconnectedness and wildlife corridors that exist between the various mountain ranges in the region. My inspiration for forming this group was the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. I worked in Yellowstone National Park for several years and try to return as often as I can.
GBCC is dedicated to conserving the broader wilderness of Big Bend National Park, America’s best-preserved example of the Chihuahuan Desert. No park or protected area is an island. The American people must be educated about the inter relationships between the numerous protected and unprotected areas of the region. A good place to focus efforts is on the Greater Big Bend Ecosystem.
Today GBCC is bringing together people living in the Greater Big Bend area of West Texas, Southern New Mexico and northern Mexico with those who work at national and state parks and other protected areas to help facilitate collaboration in the region, encourage people to visit and appreciate these areas and to learn of new research projects recently completed or underway.
We need volunteers. You can sign up to help any way you can or simply donate to our efforts online. Volunteers can sign up to serve on our Board of Directors, help with communications on social media and with fund raising efforts. I always tell people just let me know what you want to do. Building an organization like this takes a lot of work, but with everyone helping in small and big ways together we can make it happen.