I was rather surprised to stumble across a reference to the Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park. I never knew it existed, even though I’ve lived in this area for over thirty years. Then I found out why I hadn’t heard about it before — this state park was only dedicated just four short years ago, and there wasn’t a whole lot of local publicity on it at the time.
So, what exactly is a bosque? A bosque refers to a narrow forested area (called a Gallery Forest) in and around the flood plain of a river running through one of the desert areas of the Southwestern United States. The largest bosque is along an almost 400-mile stretch of the Rio Grande running from Santa Fe, New Mexico, through El Paso to just beyond Fabens, Texas. Pull up the Google satellite view of this area and the narrow, green corridor of vegetation bracketing the river is easily distinguishable from the vast surrounding brown dessert environment. The most prominent wildlife refuge along this stretch is the famous Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, which acts as a refuge for migratory water fowl (including the endangered Sandhill Crane) and other wildlife. If you’re a birder, these areas are a must during the fall and spring migration seasons.
Alas, migration season has long since passed. We did see many a bird, but mostly of the quail variety. We also saw a cottontail rabbit, but none of the bobcat, coyote, deer, or javalina that also inhabit this reserve.
But we did see one unwelcome visitor to this land — the invasive salt cedar (tamarix) — which displaces native plants and disrupts the habitat. State Park employees are working diligently to eradicate this oversize weed, but it’s a struggle.
Click on any of the images below to see a larger version: