The Borderlands Wildlife Preserve was tucked in with a beautiful blanket of snow early this year. While it was quite literally freezing cold, the clear blue, sunny skies made it worth venturing outside to snag some pictures.
Borderlands Restoration Network's Watershed Restoration Program crew braved the weather and went to check on the erosion control structures built along the Cross-Corridor trail to find them all dusted with snow, which is always a beautiful scene that rivals how they look after monsoon season - sometimes they are barely visible underneath all the new vegetation. The crew has recently built one of our largest vertical Zuni bowls to date, measuring 10 feet at its deepest. Seeing it in the snow makes it that much more impressive!
The crew also found some evidence of wildlife on the move, most likely a member of the canine family - what would you guess, a gray fox, a coyote? While some animals, like smaller mammals, including ground squirrels and bats, maybe denned up in a burrow or cave for most of the winter, many animals in the desert are still active. Other mammals are still out and about, although maybe not as active, and birds continue to forage throughout the year. Reptiles are in a state of brumation, which is a similar term to hibernation but refers explicitly to reptiles because they are ectotherms and need a source of heat to warm their bodies, unlike the black bears in the Santa Ritas who are living off of stores of fat as endotherms who create their heat. Snakes and lizards find an underground burrow or a cozy tree trunk and rest as their metabolic rate slows down to survive until the outside temperature heats up again in the spring.
The Watershed Restoration Program and Borderlands Nursery & Seed, BRN's Native Plant Program, made amazing progress on restoration work at BWP in 2023. Large Zuni bowls were built along the Cross-Corridor Trail, with seed pellets spread directly into them. Johnsongrass eradication continued, although a weaker monsoon season meant less to pull (bringing the crew much relief). Hundreds of plants grown at BN&S were outplanted at Jaguar Pond, a stock tank recontoured and revegetated to provide a water source for wildlife.
We look forward to another successful year full of wildlife encounters, native plants, and more snow in 2024!