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CDRI Desert NewsFlash
June 2024
White prickly poppy, Image by Alan Wintz.
It's summertime, which can mean only one thing -- 
We're getting ready for our annual BBQ & Auction fundraiser!
This event is incredibly successful each year because of the fun crowd supporting CDRI at its fundraiser. Last year, for the first time ever, we were slammed with a sudden, massive downpour, which would have ended the party for most people. However, our supporters held down the tents and saved the auction items from blowing away. Once the storm moved on, we dried off the tables and chairs, handed out CDRI t-shirts to many of the guests who were sopping wet, and finished the evening with the largest event results of CDRI's history. 
Please make plans to join us on August 10th for the 2024 BBQ & Auction, where we hope to repeat or surpass last year's results, minus the storm! 
The ticket price is still $30, which covers our cost for the catered dinner. Your ticket includes a delicious BBQ dinner by Sanchez BBQ, beer and wine, live music by Rick Ruiz's Grupo de la Paz, Martin Stringer as your auctioneer, and the best friends you'll ever want to hang out with! There's something to interest everyone and something you'll find at the auction that's in your price range. 
We cap ticket sales at 225 guests. Although that may sound like many seats to fill, tickets sell out fast. We do not sell dinner tickets on the day of the event. 
Please click the "TICKETS" button below to purchase your CDRI BBQ & Auction Fundraiser tickets.
You can also pay in person at the CDRI Visitor Center Information Desk or call the CDRI Information Desk at 432-364-2499 to purchase your tickets by phone.  

You're Invited 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!
* * * * * * * * * * 
Thank you to the following early bird Host Committee members!
Jerry & Susan Pittman
Michael Carter & Martha Atiee
Joni & Tim Powers
Clint Parsley & Alex Albright
Rick Gupman
Pam Hall Duerr
Jim Fissel & Jim Martinez
Rick Herrman
Greg Brock
Warren & Anita Shaul
Joe & Joyce Mussey
Debbie & Mike Murphy
Linda Hedges & Rick Reese
Suzanne & Steve Tuttle
Anne Adams
Lisa Gordon

Thank You!

Hechtia texensis, image by Jim Fissel.

Plant of the Month
Hechtia texensis
(False Agave)

Hechtia texensis (commonly called “False Agave”) is a plant in the Bromeliaceae family. Hechtia texensis is a rare bromeliad that only grows natively in the Chihuahuan Desert in northern Mexico and the Big Bend Region of Texas.

The adaptability of some bromeliads to thrive in a desert setting is a testament to the fascinating adaptations in nature. Hechtia, a relatively small genus of bromeliad with approximately 50 species, is a prime example. These plants, native to hot, arid regions, can also withstand short periods of cold temperatures as low as 15-20 degrees F, showcasing their remarkable resilience and adaptability.
Although its common name is “False Agave,” and it’s described as looking somewhat like an Agave lechuguilla, Hechtia texensis is neither a succulent nor are its sharp pointed leaves poisonous like those of Agave lechuguilla. Unlike the Agave lechuguilla’s smooth leaves, the leaves of Hechtia texensis have sharp, tooth-like edges with white spines and can grow up to 17 inches in length. They have scales on their leaves that reflect the sun to prevent burning. Once you see the vibrant red leaves with accents of green and yellow with white spines, you’ll likely agree that this plant has nothing in common with Agave lechuguilla.
Hechtia texensis grows in well-drained sandy or medium loam soil and limestone terraces. It produces a two-foot-high branched stalk with small, white flowers. Hechtia texensis will develop its vibrant red leaves at about three years of age. This plant may develop dry brown tips that can either be trimmed or left as is. 

With its unique coloring and ease of care, Hechtia texensis can make a nice addition as an ornamental plant in a xeriscape setting. It also produces pups, but handle this plant carefully while always keeping in mind that it has some seriously sharp-edged leaves with spines. 
Images are courtesy of Jim Fissel.   
Now, for some timely plant care information...

Beware of the Agave Snout Weevil
While spending time in your garden this summer, be watchful for the agave snout weevil, especially during wet months. Agave weevils are beetles with a snout. They’re small, about 6/10 inch long, black, wingless, and they are hungry.
Agave weevils tend to be attracted to broad-leaf agaves (i.e., Agave americana). The lower leaves, near the base of the plant, will show damage first when females tunnel into the stem of an agave to feed on the tissue. Having created a small pencil-sized hole, a female weevil will lay its eggs in the bored-out tunnel, allowing the larvae to move to the plant's crown to feed. A bacterial infection will develop, causing the plant to give off a foul odor. It’s the bacterial infection that eventually kills the plant.
Symptoms of agave weevil infestation include wilted and wrinkled leaves. The plant becomes loosely attached to the ground, and eventually, the agave collapses into a slippery jelly-like mass and dies. The grubs will hide under the dying plant and then migrate to a neighboring one. 
Most agave snout weevils are transported in the soil of plants that you've purchased or from a mature plant or pup gifted to you from a friend’s yard. For this reason, inspect an agave before you take it home and check the soil before it goes into the ground.
Agave weevils tend to attack plants that are overwatered and stressed due to overcrowding. So, to counteract and prevent those conditions, have soil that drains well and refrain from overwatering.   
If you discover an infected agave and the plant is beyond treatment, it’s recommended to remove the infected plant, being careful not to drop any soil from the roots and remove any grubs remaining in the soil.  
The center plant, above,  is infected with agave weevils. Photo credit
Agave Snout Weevil: Everything You Need to Know,
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Entomology Update,
CDRI Wraps Up the School Year
With "Living Things" for 1st Graders!
Living Things, one of CDRI's educational programs, is designed specifically for 1st graders, aligning with the Texas Education Association (TEA) curriculum. All of CDRI's educational programs, including Living Things, are free to all students in the TEA Region 18 area. Free snacks are also provided. 
We're able to offer the STEM-based programs for free to all TEA Region 18 students, thanks to several generous foundations and thanks to supporters like you who donate throughout the year and who give generously to the "Education Paddle-Raise" at the BBQ & Auction fundraiser. All the funds raised go into producing some of the best programs children can experience. 
Thank you to all of you who have helped us fund the programs and the talented volunteers who are generous with their time as they help us deliver these programs. 
The following are images from Living Things.
Miner Joe's 94th Birthday! 
The above images are of Miner Joe at a school presentation in 2017 for students from Athens, Texas. Who knew that Mady Kitchens was one of the 8th-grade students in that audience? Mady is attending SRSU, where she is working on her master's degree. She will be working in the Botanical Gardens for her second year as a summer intern at CDRI, and she works as CDRI's Information Host at the Powell Visitor Center on Mondays and Tuesdays—photos by Mady Kitchens.
Visiting Groups - May 2024 
The Girls' School of Austin, (Austin, TX) 
Sixth graders from the Girls' School of Austin hiked Modesta Canyon with Hoot Baez as the Interpretive Guide. 
National Parks Conservation Association
National Parks Conservation Association members hiked the Outer Loop, led by Interpretive Guide Cameron Adams. 
Heritage School, Fredericksburg, Texas
Eighth-grade students from Heritage School in Fredericksburg, Texas, and their parents hiked Modesta Canyon with Hoot and Linda Baez as Interpretive Guides. 
Prairie Oaks Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists, Stephenville, TX
Members of the Prairie Oaks Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists visited CDRI and toured the Botanical Gardens, with Faith Hille Dishron leading the tour.
University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA)
Students from the UTSA Integrative Biology Department hiked Modesta Canyon and Clayton's Overlook. UTSA professors served as instructors and guides for the group.
CDRI Rocks Make Their Musical Debut

Corey Fogel, a Los Angeles-based musicologist, composer, percussionist, and recent Ph.D. graduate of the University of California Irvine’s Integrated Composition, Improvisation, and Technology program, brightened our day recently. On a recent hike to Modesta Canyon, Corey explored the resonant pitches of the intrusive igneous rock among the different sizes of rock by rubbing the rocks together.
So, our interest was piqued when Corey asked to borrow some rocks for a composition debuting at the Tierra Sonidas Sound Festival in Marfa. The composition required performers to “tow” various combinations of rocks over the perimeter of an outdoor concrete stage, allowing the rocks to “sing” in overlapping tonalities as they crossed the stage.
It was a pleasure to meet Corey, and it was fun to have CDRI have a small part in the sound festival. 
The Bird Blind Gets a Facelift
The Bird Blind area looks beautiful after receiving a makeover.  Maintenance & Land Manager Kipp Harlow and volunteers Greg Brock, Alan Tscheyka, and Cameron Adams recently replaced the expansive 4 ft. x 8 ft. picture window in the Bird Blind shelter, providing a clear view of all the bird activity. Kipp also made extensive repairs on the rockwork that makes up the 30 ft. long water feature.  
Thursday, July 4, 2024
CDRI is celebrating its volunteers this year with fireworks! 

CDRI volunteers are invited to a
4th of July pie and ice cream party,
followed by a hike to Clayton's Overlook
to watch the Fort Davis Coolest 4th Fireworks!

                                7:00 p.m.   Pie and ice cream
                                8:30 p.m.   Hike to Clayton's Overlook
                                9:02  p.m.   Sunset

The CDRI site will only be open to CDRI Volunteers
and their families for this event.

Please RSVP to
From all of us at CDRI,

We wish you happy trails! 
We're looking forward to seeing you this summer!
Photo by Faith Hille Dishron. 
Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute, P.O. Box 905, Fort Davis, TX 79734

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