MALPAI BORDERLANDS GROUP

OUR MISSION

Our goal is to restore and maintain the natural processes that create and protect a healthy, unfragmented landscape to support a diverse, flourishing community of human, plant and animal life in our borderlands region.

Together, we will accomplish this by working to encourage profitable ranching and other traditional livelihoods, which will sustain the open space nature of our land for generations to come.

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MALPAI BORDERLANDS GROUP 2015 ANNUAL SCIENCE CONFERENCE

The Malpai Borderlands Group hosted our annual Science Conference on January 8th in the Cochise College Little Theater at the Douglas Campus. Bill McDonald, our Executive Director and a member of our Board, extended a warm welcome to those in attendance, noting that this year’s conference was the 14th that we have held.

We dedicated our conference this year to Charles W. Painter, who recently retired as herpetologist for the Endangered Species Program at the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.  Charlie’s longtime colleague and collaborator Cecil Schwalbe read a short tribute, citing Charlie’s efforts to advance research and management of herpetofauna in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, as well as his history of working effectively with the broad spectrum of stakeholders in our Malpai Borderlands.

Approximately half of our program this year was devoted to catching up with the results of some of our collaborators who have been working in the Mexico portion of our borderlands region.  However, logistics dictated that the first presentation this year was provided digitally by Jessica Parker, of New Mexico Highlands University. Jessica revisited our long-term research project on McKinney Flats on the Diamond A Ranches.  Her work described the complex interactions between rainfall, primary production and small herbivores during the first years of the 21st century--years in which annual precipitation varied dramatically from year to year.  

Transitioning to Mexico, Jed Meunier reported the results of his dissertation research at Colorado State University examining the interaction of climate and periodic fire on regeneration in the forests of the Sierra San Luis and Sierra Madre south of us in Chihuahua and Sonora.  Citlali Cortés Montaño from the University of Durango followed with a broader look at the forests of northwestern Mexico, examining the relationships between history and fire disturbance on the overstory structure of old-growth forests in the mountains to the south of our border.  In the last presentation of the morning, Matt Levi, one of our cooperators from the Jornada Experimental Range, described his work documenting the effects of variability in soils and climate on recent fire history in Chihuahuan Desert ecosystems.

After a lunch break, the program resumed with Chris Stetson, Fire Planner and Fuels Specialist with the Coronado National Forest.  Chris presented a history of recent fire management, mitigation and restoration work.  The Coronado has been an important collaborator in our efforts to restore periodic fire as a key element of our ecosystems in the Malpai Borderlands.  However, like much of the West, we have experienced an increase in the size and intensity of wild land fires.  As a result, the Forest Service has been forced to spend more of their limited resources on suppression and control, as well as on ramping up their forest restoration activities.

Returning to Mexico, Myles Traphagen, one of our key ecosystem science collaborators, described his work to examine the current status of the white-sided jackrabbit in its historic range in Mexico.  This species is found in the United States only at the south end of the Animas and Playas valleys on the Diamond A Ranches and its status throughout its historic range in Mexico is uncertain.  Myles’ initial investigations indicate the population in the United States is almost certainly genetically isolated from the nearest populations to the south of us in Chihuahua.

With the focus still on Chihuahua, Antonio Esquer brought us up to date on the collaborative conservation efforts of our longtime cooperators in the area of Janos, Chihuahua.  Antonio described research and management activities on the 46,000-acre Rancho el Uno, as well as their outreach and education activities in the local community.  Rancho el Uno is a key parcel in the 1.3 million-acre Janos Bioreserve.  It is part of the largest remaining black-tailed prairie dog complex in North America.  As part of the efforts to restore native grasslands and their biota, 26 bison imported from the U.S. were recently released.  These animals will augment a small remnant native population that has been isolated from a larger group in the Playas Valley north of the border by the construction of the border fence along the international boundary with Mexico.

The final presentation of the day featured Rebekah Karsh who described her pioneering research on lamb mortality in desert bighorn sheep in the Peloncillo Mountains just north of our planning area.  Rebekah was able to use emerging technology to detect parturition in bighorn ewes that had been radio collared and implanted with a vaginal transmitter.  This allowed her to characterize preferred lambing habitat and to capture and radio collar newborn lambs.  She was also able to characterize nursery habitat and identify sources of mortality among lambs in the first six months of their lives.

On January 7th, MBG staff and three of our board members met at the Malpai Ranch with members of our science advisory panel who were in attendance.  We conducted a post-mortem on the conference the preceding day and discussed research needs identified by the MBG staff.  We also had a very rewarding dialogue concerning ideas and themes for our 2016 Science Conference.

If you have questions, comments or suggestions about our science conference this year or ideas for future conferences, we would appreciate your feedback at malpaigroup@gmail.com.

 

 

 


News, Meetings & Workshops

Click here to see what is happening

with the Malpai Borderlands Group.

 

SCHOLARSHIPS

In July of 2010 the Board of Directors of the Malpai Borderlands Group voted to establish a scholarship fund, in the memory of former Malpai Board Member Rob Krentz, to assist worthy high school graduates in the Malpai Borderlands region with furthering their education.

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MALPAI NEWSLETTERS

Following are links to past issues of the

Malpai Borderlands Group Newsletters

from 1994 to the present year.

Please click here to read the newsletters.

 

 


WHO WE ARE

We are a grassroots, landowner-driven nonprofit organization attempting to implement ecosystem management on nearly one million acres of virtually unfragmented open-space landscape in southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico.

The Malpai Borderlands area includes the San Bernardino Valley, the Peloncillo Mountains, the Animas Valley and the Animas Mountains. It is roughly pyramid shaped, with the base of the pyramid beginning just east of Douglas, Arizona along the Mexican Border to just west of Antelope Wells, New Mexico. The apex is just south of Animas, New Mexico.

With elevations ranging from 3500 to 8500 feet, the Malpai is a diverse area of mountains, canyons, valleys and riparian corridors. Several rare, threatened, and endangered plant and animal species are found here. It is the only place in the U.S. where Gould's turkey and white-sided jackrabbits occur naturally. It is also home to popular big-game species such as Coues deer, mule deer, pronghorn and Desert Bighorn sheep.

Perhaps the most remarkable feature of this huge landscape is that fewer than 100 human families reside on it. Many of the families who live here have been here for generations. Except for two small wildlife preserves, this is cattle ranching country. As ranchers, we have been concerned about a key resource we depend on for our livelihoods and way of life - the diminishing quality of grasslands for grazing. Fragmentation of the landscape, beginning with the subdivision of some ranches in our area, has also been a looming threat.

We formed a nonprofit organization to bring ranchers, scientists, and key agencies together, and today the Malpai Borderlands Group now carries out a series of conservation programs and activities, including land restoration; endangered species habitat protection; cost-sharing range and ranch improvements; and land conservation projects.

We invite you to explore our website and learn more about our efforts.


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