May 24, 2022
Thank you for contributing to our monitoring project at the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park in southern New Mexico. The Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park is the outdoor classroom facility owned and operated by the nonprofit Asombro Institute for Science Education. It serves as a site for guided field trips for K-12 students, public education events, and access to self-guided exploration and education by visitors who come to the site on their own.
The Gateway to the Desert Trail guides visitors through a Chihuahuan desert shrubland and along a small arroyo leading from the slopes of the Doña Ana Mountains into the Jornada Basin. The remediation experiment was started in May 2022 in an area that has visible damage to plants and soil due to trespassing cattle and unauthorized off-trail vehicle use.
The site includes a control plot and a remediation plot, each 2.5 meters wide by 15 meters long. In the remediation plot, we added six, 1-meter bands of cut creosote bush (Larrea tridentata) branches to the soil surface. These branches were cut from shrubs removed to install a parking area at the trailhead. Branches were staked loosely to the ground to prevent them from blowing away. We hypothesize that the added ground cover will decrease soil erosion, increase humidity, and trap litter and water moving through the system, ultimately promoting the growth of grasses and forbs. If successful, this may serve to be a very low cost, simple method for remediating other damaged areas in the desert.
The Asombro Institute for Science Education is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing science literacy through engaging, place-based education. Asombro educators provide hands-on, standards-aligned lessons to more than 20,000 K-12 students annually in classrooms, schoolyards, and at Asombro's outdoor classroom, the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park.