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CDRI Desert NewsFlash
May 2024
       Volunteer Greg Brock removes Russian thistle from the CDRI site. Photo by Faith Hille-Dishron.

Happy Birthday,
Miner Joe! 
Please join us as we help celebrate 94 years!

Please join us on Saturday, May 18, from 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m., to wish Miner Joe a happy birthday! To celebrate the kid in all of us, we'll have cookies, ice cream sandwiches, and popsicles. 

Bugs! Bugs! Bugs! Day delights 2nd & 3rd graders
CDRI welcomed 250 2nd and 3rd grade students from Alpine Christian School and Presidio, Alpine, Fort Davis, and Marfa ISDs on April 17 and 18. Members of Sul Ross State University (SRSU) Biology Club and CDRI volunteers led Learning Stations that included the parts of an insect, creepy crawlies and poisonous insects, entomophagy, bug tasting, and a first-hand look at pollinators in the Botanical Garden. Inside the Powell Visitor Center, children learned about a variety of mammal scats and tracks, plus enjoyed free snacks and a chance to shop for a souvenir in the Gift Shop. 
Dr. Chris Ritzi, Professor of Biology, SRSU.
The Roger Conant Distinguished Guest Lecture Program was a huge success!
CDRI's spring lecture with Dr. Chris Ritzi, held at the Crowley Theater in Marfa, Texas, was more than just another lecture. It was an excellent session and a great lecture for the record books. Chris reported on the ongoing work in eradicating the invasive salt cedar plant and his work with Tamarisk beetles. Chris is a great teacher and storyteller, which is all it took to capture the audience's attention. 
CDRI's fall lecture is scheduled for Thursday, October 17. It will feature Dr. Mitchell Thomashow, former Chair of Environmental Studies at Antioch University New England and author of A New Vision for Environmental Learning. 
Save the Date!
CDRI's Annual BBQ & Auction fundraiser
Saturday, August 10, 2024
Ticket sales will open on June 1st.
CDRI's James F. Scudday Scholarship
Recipients Announced
 Director Emerita Shirley Powell presents the CDRI Scudday Scholarship awards to Elle Sutherland and Nicole Dickan.
CDRI is pleased to announce the 2024 recipients of the James F. Scudday Scholarship. The $1,000 grants are offered annually to graduate students conducting research in the Chihuahuan Desert region, with preference given to applicants conducting research in vertebrate biology.  With their impressive thesis projects, this year's scholarship winners are Nicole Dickan and Elle Sutherland.
Nicole Dickan
Nicole is a Graduate Research Assistant at Borderlands Research Institute (BRI) at Sul Ross State University (SRSU) where she is conducting research on black bear ecology in the Trans-Pecos region. Prior to her current research, Nicole worked with a wide range of species, including grizzly bears, bobcats, and bighorn sheep. 
Elle Sutherland
This is Elle Sutherland's second Scudday Scholarship. Elle is working toward her Master of Science in Range and Wildlife Management at SRSU's Borderland Research Institute with an expected graduation date of May 2025. Elle's research is based on space use and competition in desert bighorn sheep. 
The Scholarship's Namesake
James F. Scudday, Ph.D. (1929-2009) was a CDRI co-founder and longtime professor of Biology at SRSU. Upon his retirement in 1995, he was named a Distinguished Professor Emeritus by the Board of Regents of the Texas State University System, the board's highest honor for retired educators. 
In addition to a full teaching load, Dr. Scudday conducted significant research, published in scientific journals, and prepared numerous comprehensive vertebrate surveys for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the National Park Service. 
During his SRSU tenure, Dr. Scudday directed more than 100 students in graduate programs and thesis projects. Many of his former students remained in close contact with him during the course of his lifetime. 
The Dr. James F. Scudday CDRI Endowed Scholarship Fund was established in 2010 in recognition of Dr. Scudday's many contributions to the field and his passion for teaching. These scholarships are but one way CDRI fulfills its commitment to nature-based education and the support of research in the Chihuahuan Desert region.
CDRI welcomes its newest Directors
Two new Directors, Rick Gupman and Julie Webb, have joined the CDRI Board. Rick Gupman is the Deputy Superintendent at Big Bend National Park and works on his weekend cabin in the Davis Mountains whenever he can squeeze in some hard-to-find spare time. Rick volunteers at CDRI and has become an invaluable help behind the scenes at CDRI's events since 2022.
Julie Webb and her husband, Bruce, own Webb's Fair and Square Gallery located in the restored Masonic Lodge in Fort Davis. Julie has volunteered at CDRI for nearly two years, working tirelessly in the garden as well as introducing visiting out-of-town friends to the site.
A current list of CDRI's Directors follows:

CDRI's 2024 Board of Directors

Jim Martinez, President *
Joe Williams, Vice President * 
Anne Adams, Secretary *
Rick Herrman, Treasurer *
Rick Gupman
Reggie James
Debbie Murphy 
Ed Pfiester *
John Pritchett
Chris Ritzi
Julie Webb

* Denotes members of the Executive Committee.
Plant of the Month
Editor's note: Having received numerous requests over the course of a few days to identify a plant (Dalea formosa), we're embarking on a new "plant of the month" feature in the DNF. If you find a plant that has an interesting background, a unique relationship with pollinators, or presents a beautiful inflorescence, please share that interest or your questions with us at programs@cdri.org so we can include it in a future DNF edition. Thank you!
Dalea formosa
a/k/a Feather Dalea, Indigobush
The flowers on this small shrub will grab your attention with their four overlapping bright purple petals with a detached yellow banner petal. After flowering, the seeds and their plumed, feathery tail remain on the plant until fall. The shrub has pinnately compound leaves (taking their name from their feather-like appearance), with leaves divided into small oval leaflets along a middle vein.
Feather Dalea grows up to three feet in height in its natural setting, blooming from early spring through June and again in the fall. It prefers well-drained, gravelly slopes, requiring little water and no fertilizer once it's established. 
The flowers attract butterflies, moths, native bees, honeybees, and bumblebees, as well as hummingbirds, small mammals, and deer.  
Information for this article was gathered from the following publications, available for sale in the CDRI Nature Center Gift Shop.
* Marfa Garden, the Wonders of Dry Desert Plants, by J. Martinez, J. Fissel, M. Hughes, and M . Saxon.
* A Guide to Plants of the Northern Chihuahuan Desert, by Carolyn Dodson.
                                                                                                                     Images are by Tammy Telchik.
Garden Notes: "Life after Death"
by Faith Hille Dishron
With all living things comes the time of passing, so this is a story of the passing of a great yucca. After several days of strong winds, our beloved Beaked Yucca (Yucca rostrata), at the front entrance of the Powell Visitor Center, fell. This yucca has been a part of CDRI since the Powell Visitor Center was built in 1988. We estimate the age of the yucca to be close to 50 years old – the same age as CDRI.
I always enjoyed its whimsical growth pattern, with its wide, open arms. It looked like it was ready to give you a hug. The branches, though, had become a hazard, with two of the heads at eye level with small children, and I’ve been stabbed many times while watering. 
After a couple of hours of sawing, I succeeded in separating the four branches. We transplanted the four yucca heads in the large cactus garden in front of the cactus greenhouse. This task wouldn't have been possible without the invaluable help of volunteer Greg Brock, who dug the holes and planted the yuccas. We are truly grateful for his assistance. Created three years ago, this large bed has slowly developed into a beautiful display of desert plants. The four Yucca rostratas outlining the back of the bed have now added depth to the bed. And although it’s sad to see our gnarly friend go, we’re happy to see how it gave a new beginning to four new yuccas. 
Focusing on happier news, the garden is completely green and thriving! The Fragrant Ash (Fraxinus cuspidata) is in full bloom and smells heavenly. The milkweed seeds that were dispersed throughout the garden are growing. Last year, our volunteers and I collected and dispersed Tufted Milkweed (Asclepias nummularia), Broad-leaf Milkweed (Asclepias latifolia), Nodding Milkweed (Asclepias glaucescens) and Antelope-horns (Asclepias asperula). There should be plenty for the caterpillars and butterflies to feed on this summer. 
Lastly, we listened when CDRI co-founder Dr. Michael Powell commented that he had wished for a sotol “forest” inside the Botanical Gardens in the area between the Desert Specialty Garden and the Pollinator Garden. The area already hints of a sotol forest, but we added to it when Kipp Harlow (CDRI’s Site Manager) and I were given the opportunity to collect sotol stalks from the garden at the Judd Foundation’s Chamberlain Building in Marfa, Texas. Kipp creates beautiful walking sticks from the stalks that we sell in the Nature Center’s Gift Shop.
With the stalks heavy with seeds, Kipp had the genius idea to knock off as many seeds as we could into the truck bed. We collected about four pounds of sotol seeds, which we dispersed throughout the sotol forest site. It will take several years for the seeds to sprout and grow into mature plants, but we anticipate future generations of visitors will delight in Dr. Powell’s Sotol Forest. 
Happy trails! And we hope to see you soon!
Visiting Groups
Texas Association of Cactus & Succulent Societies (TACSS)

The Texas Association of Cactus & Succulent Societies, represented by the Austin, Houston, Central, and North Texas Cactus & Succulent Societies, enjoyed the day at CDRI. Guests were treated to a guided tour of CDRI's Botanical Gardens and the M. Templeton Cactus Museum Collection, followed by lunch on the beautiful scenic veranda at the Powell Visitor Center. 
Chinati Museum's Grassland Restoration Project 

Interns from the grass restoration project at the Chinati Museum, Marfa, Texas, visited CDRI to tour the recently completed Native Grasses Exhibit, a part of CDRI's Botanical Gardens, led by CDRI Board President Jim Martinez.
Three new mouths to feed. (They're tiny!)
We're pleased to share the news that "our" three baby Desert Box Turtles made it through the winter! They arrived last summer as a donation, and due to their tiny size, we've kept them in a confined and protected area where they are safe from predators. We're delighted to see they have dug out from their winter burrows and have grown a bit since they first arrived nearly a year ago. We will post updates and pictures of any fun stories or new developments. 

From the best rural
nature center and
botanical gardens
in Texas,
we look forward
to welcoming you soon!
                      Happy kids with mom Jennifer Steadman after a full day hiking the Outer Loop Trail.
Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute, P.O. Box 905, Fort Davis, TX 79734


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