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CDRI Desert NewsFlash
July 2024
We're keeping our fingers crossed for an early arrival of the summer monsoons. The above image of Cowpen daisies, Verbesina encelioides, c. 2019, is by Alan Wintz
CDRI's Annual BBQ and auction fundraiser is quickly approaching! Tickets are $30 each and include a delicious BBQ dinner, great beverages, terrific music, and the best silent and live auctions ever.
Tickets must be purchased in advance! 
To date, 125 tickets have been sold, so be sure to get yours soon! It's easy. Just click "Tickets" below.
So, what's so special about a BBQ & Auction?

For those new to the BBQ & Auction fundraiser, this is CDRI's main fundraiser. The other fundraiser is the highly anticipated Cactus & Succulent Sale held in March.  In the event's early days, CDRI's Directors prepared a BBQ cookout dinner. The auction items were a bit more eclectic, ranging from a tray of cookies to a boulder that remains on the CDRI site to Clayton Williams selling the shirt off his back.  
Naturally, over time, the event has grown. The dinner is catered, and auction items range from fine art to fabulous weekend getaways.
The thing that remains the same is that the BBQ & Auction from the early days was created with a lot of heart, with the intent to raise funds for a fledgling nonprofit organization. Fifty-one years later, the BBQ & Auction is still produced with a lot of heart to raise operating funds for the coming year. We also raise funds through the Auction's Educational Paddle Raise to offer free attendance to our acclaimed educational programs for Grades K-8, including Summer Shake Up, and free admission for additional classroom studies for students within the TEA Region 18 served area, Sul Ross State University (SRSU) and University of Texas at Permian Basin (UTPB). Funding from the Educational Paddle Raise has also allowed us to bring in exciting guest lecturers twice annually for the Roger Conant Distinguished Guest Lecturer Program. The Conant Lecture and all workshops are free and open to the public.
Auctioneer Martin Stringer, and a local favorite, musician Rick Ruiz and Grupo de la Paz will ensure the evening remains lively. It's a fun and exciting event where you'll see old friends and make new ones. You'll also be helping to ensure 2025 shines as brightly as the previous 51 years enjoyed by CDRI.
We look forward to seeing you at this year's BBQ & Auction on August 10!
There's Still Time to Join 
CDRI's 2024 BBQ & Auction
Host Committee!
To make 2024 the year of the most outstanding
BBQ & Auction fundraiser yet,
we’re inviting you to join
CDRI’s 2024 BBQ & Auction Host Committee
with your donation of $250.
As an Underwriter/Host, you will receive:
                                  * Two event dinner tickets
* A unique, commemorative host gift
* Acknowledgment in all event publications
* Special recognition at the event.

   You can join the Host Committee

mail your check to CDRI, P.O. Box 905, Fort Davis, Texas 79734.
Thank you for your support!

We’re looking forward to seeing you at
CDRI's BBQ & Auction Fundraiser!
* * * * * * * * * * 
                             2024 Host Committee 

Anne Adams                                              Jim Martinez & Jim Fissel
Judy & Stephen Alton                               Jane & Guy McCrary
Martha Atiee & Michael Carter                Debbie & Mike Murphy
Greg Brock                                               Joyce & Joe Mussey
Edwina Campbell                                     Clint Parsley & Alex Albright    
Don Coan & Veleda Boyd                        Susan & Jerry Pittman
Liz & Rick Culp                                       R. Edward Pfiester
Meredith Dreiss & David Brown             Shirley & Mike Powell
Pam Hall Duerr                                         Joni & Tim Powers
Lanna & Joe Duncan                                Bob Rice & Judy Reichelderfer
Kristen & Tom Feuerbacher                     Anita & Warren Shaul
Beth & Larry Francell                              Ron Sommers & Charles Mary Kubricht
Bill & Julie Free                                       Mary & Daryl Styblo
Lisa Gordon                                             Suzanne & Steve Tuttle
Rick Gupman                                           Julie & Bruce Lee Webb
Linda Hedges & Rick Reese                    Teresa & Jim Weedin
Rick Herrman & Margaret O'Donnell      Joe Williams
Chuck Loban
Thank You for Your Support!

Week One of Summer Shake Up with 6th through 8th grade students. 
Summer Shake Up at CDRI
We shook things up at the Nature Center this summer by expanding our one-week-long Critter Camp into a month-long Summer Shake Up for Marfa ISD students. We've participated for the past nine years with Marfa Summer Shake Up, but we only offered a morning day camp to children ranging in age from Pre-K to 2nd grade. 
Marfa Summer Shake Up began in 2013 as an extended summer program by Marfa ISD, which provides breakfast and lunch for children during the month of June. When it first started, various art and dance activities were provided at the elementary school each morning. The following year, the program expanded throughout the town. Organized by the Chinati Foundation's Education Department and Marfa ISD, Summer Shake Up expanded to the Chinati Foundation, Ballroom Marfa, the County Library, Marfa Live Arts, Marfa Studio Arts, and  Folklorico dance. With that much enthusiasm on display as support for children, we knew that CDRI needed to get in on the fun! 
Feeling adventurous this spring, we asked if CDRI could participate throughout June and offer programs for kids from Kindergarten to 8th grade. Lucky for us, Superintendent Arturo Alferez made sure that a Marfa school bus or van was available to bring the children to CDRI each day throughout the month. We didn't do it alone. Tierra Grande Master Naturalist and retired high school biology teacher Warren Shaul created learning experiences for children in Grades 2 - 8. Preschool teacher Rebecca Mauldin used her exceptional skills to create fun and engaging activities for the younger children.  Juanita Sabochick and Barbara Love, also Master Naturalists, generously volunteered to work with the children. 
Throughout the month, we heard from our visitors who exclaimed how heartwarming it was to see an entire community wrap its arms around its children, with the only expectation being to enrich children's lives. Congratulations, Marfa! All of us at CDRI were thrilled to again be a part of Marfa Summer Shake Up.  
Garden Notes
by Faith Hille Dishron

Rain! Finally, on June 20, we got rain! Dodging deep puddles as I drove to work and joyfully humming a merry tune while thinking about how happy the CDRI garden would be, I arrived to discover we had not received the promised inch and a half. Instead, it was barely .3 inches, but it was a gentle soaking rain. Here, in hot west Texas, we gladly accept any amount of moisture. This was especially true because I had preemptively sown grass seeds anticipating the rain.
I collected just under a quarter pound of Hairy Grama (Bouteloua hirsuta) seed last fall in hopes of seeding it with our 2024 summer monsoons. Upon inspecting the area, I discovered it was full of biological soil crust, or biocrust for short. I could not, in good conscience, completely scrape the surface as I had done in the previous grass beds. Biocrust is extremely special and ecologically important in semi-arid ecosystems.  
                                                                                                         Images by Faith Hille Dishron.
Many will walk past the biocrust simply thinking it is only odd-colored soil. Younger biocrust is flat and closely resembles the surrounding soil. Mature biocrust appears bumpy, darker in color, or extremely bright green due to the presence of microbes. Many different organisms make up the biocrust including microfungi, cyanobacteria, lichens, mosses, rotifers, roundworms, and tardigrades.
The cyanobacteria are the foundation that starts the whole process. They perform photosynthesis and produce a sugary byproduct, which bonds to the surrounding soil, creating a sticky “mesh.” Once the cyanobacteria are established, the other organisms “pile in” to feast on the byproducts or on the cyanobacteria themselves.
 So, the next time you observe a biocrust, imagine the amazing microscopic processes that are too small to see. I like to imagine the adorable tardigrades (aka “water bears”) devouring the cyanobacteria and other microorganisms. It is a complete food web on a microscopic level.
 Not only are these biocrusts just cool to ponder over, but they also serve an essential role in water retention. When it rains, the organisms absorb ten times their volume in water and then release it slowly into the soil. The mature biocrust also has a roughened surface, which slows down runoff, therefore increasing water infiltration into the soil and lessening soil erosion.
Biocrust is the pioneer species in an arid landscape, allowing grasses to establish, then shrubs and larger trees. However, if disturbed, such as by a human stepping on it, it can take anywhere from 25 to 250 years to recover, if at all. I’ll quote the USGS; “Don’t bust the crust! Stay on the trails. Protect fragile biological soil crusts.”  
                                                                                                                                                Image by Faith Hille Dishron.
I carefully tiptoed around the area, encircling each large and small biocrust with rocks to ensure their safety as I busted the surrounding area with my mattock. This was a very tedious task as there was so much of the crust in the bed. Additionally, the bed is on a subtle downhill slope, which allows runoff into the pathways. I modified the bed by adding buried rocks to create a water bar to hold the water. I also made small depressions in the ground where the seed was sown in hopes of water retention and better germination. In just the past 7 days, there are signs of germination, and all the biocrusts seem stable and alive. Come on out for a visit and admire the beautiful, diverse biocrust! But don’t bust the crust!

Volunteers Needed for Adopt a Highway Clean-Up
With the highway construction now complete, we need to take a few hours to clean up the two-mile stretch of roadway that CDRI Nature Center is responsible for. It's about one mile in either direction from the front gate. To beat the heat, we're starting at 8:30 a.m. We'll provide trash grabbers, trash bags, gloves, orange safety vests, water, and snacks. 
Please RSVP if you're able to help to events@cdri.org
Agave Festival Marfa Visits the Botanical Gardens
CDRI was honored to participate in the 2024 Agave Festival Marfa on June 7 and 8, with guided tours of the Botanical Gardens. Friday's tour was led by CDRI Head Gardener Faith Hille Dishron, and Saturday's tour was led by CDRI Board President and co-author of Marfa Gardens Jim Martinez. Needless to say, the tours were fabulous and eagerly attended by enthusiastic crowds. 
CDRI Provides All-Day CPE Course 
for Region 18 Teachers
Region 18 teachers attended an all-day program "Stuck on You" in which they learned all about cacti. Lesson ideas were also shared, and each teacher took home a cactus they planted.
From the best rural nature center & botanical gardens in Texas, we wish you happy trails!

Image by Faith Hille Dishron.
Promotional posters produced by Ivory Harlow.
All unidentified images by Lisa Gordon.
Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute, P.O. Box 905, Fort Davis, TX 79734


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