Chihuahua Desert Spring!

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EL PASO, TEXAS.  Living in the Desert Southwest has its rewards.  Located in the middle of the Chihuahua Desert, wrapped around the southernmost promontory of the Rocky Mountains, El Paso, Texas boasts a diverse biome in a harsh landscape.  According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, the Chihuahua Desert may be “the most biologically diverse desert in the world“.  Springtime, after a wet winter such as we had in 2009-2010, brings out an amazing array of colorful blossoms!  The harbinger of a “good bloom” is the Mexican Poppy.  When the flanks of the Franklin Mountains begin to show an orange-yellow tinge in places, its time to grab the camera, hiking shoes, some water and head into the hills!

The red granite ramparts of North Franklin Peak and lush ground cover off of Transmountain Road in Northeast El Paso have drawn people to the slopes of the mountains for thousands of years.  Nestled in the shelter of the boulders, one might find an occasional petroglyph marking what could have been an ancient Native American hunt or camp area. Much this area is restricted to access because of its historical use as a firing range for the artillery and air defense training centers at Fort Bliss, at the foot of the Eastern flanks of Mount Franklin.  The military name for this 800+ acre No-Man’s Zone is Castner Range, and there is a grass roots effort to have the government clean up the shell and bomb debris and put it back into productive community use.

Careful there! The needle-sharp spikes of the Lechuguilla, or Spanish Dagger, one of the “indicator plants” of the Chihuahuan Desert

Morning sunlight catches the golden spines of the Prickly Pear cactus,                                                          while a colleague captures an image nearby.

~ by Dave Etzold on April 5, 2010.

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