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Transcript of Trans-Pecos Eco-Region
The vegetation in the Tran-Pecos is mostly comprised of Chihuahuan Desert species. Commonly found species include honey mesquite, red berry juniper, net-leaf hackberry, cottonwood, desert willow, western soapberry, shin oak, Texas walnut, Mexican buckeye and Ashe juniper in the eastern part of the region. It hosts a diverse mixture of short grasses, desert cacti and wildflowers. Some examples are: creosotebush, tarbush, four-winged saltbush, mariola, and succulents such as cacti, yuccas, agaves, ocotillo, and sotol.
Plant and Animal Representatives
The first areas of the Trans-Pecos were populated by both indigenous and European peoples along the Rio Grande River. Permanent Spanish settlements were established on the south side of the river around 1659 in Paso Del Norte (now known as El Paso on the United States side of the river and Ciudad Juarez on the Mexican side.) The areas beyond the river were home to the Mescalero and Lipan Apache tribes, who were nomadic throughout the region. The Comanches controlled the eastern edge of the region. After Texas joined the Union in 1845, with the protection of the U.S. Army stationed in the outposts of Fort Stockton, Fort Davis, Fort Hancock and Fort Bliss, the rich, vast expanses of grasses brought in ranchers in the mid- to late 19th century. Agriculture has always been a major part of the settlements along the Rio Grande with early inhabitants growing grapes, and fruit trees. Paso Del Norte was also a major stop to replenish supplies along the El Camino Real a major trade route between Mexico City and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The Trans-Pecos is the region west of the Pecos River, bounded by the Rio Grande on the south and west, and on the north by the thirty-second parallel, which forms the boundary with the state of New Mexico. Most of the region's physical and cultural landscape has little in common with the rest of the state. Although it constitutes about 11 percent of the area of Texas, the Trans-Pecos has received less attention than the more populous east. It is about the same size as South Carolina. It also possesses the most varied, distinctive, and spectacular scenery in Texas.
The Trans-Pecos Eco-Region
Eco-Regions of Texas
Over most of the area average annual rainfall is less than 12 inches, but varies greatly from year
to year and from lower to higher elevations. July and August are usually the higher rainfall
The climate is basically arid with temperature ranging from 55-70 degrees Fahrenheit.
The soils of the Trans Pecos are based on Mountain outwash materials. They are generally alkaline and have poor drainage in some areas.
Low Water Consuming Trees and Shrubs
White-tail and Mule Deer
Big Horn Sheep
Mostly Mountain Outwash Material
Majority is Alkaline
Wooded Mountain Slopes
Low Amount of Rainfall
Deer delivered enormous “bang for the buck” to native peoples. They not only provided large sources of protein in one kill, they also contributed bones and antlers for tools, sinew for cording, and hides for clothing and coverings. Native peoples often processed the bones of deer and other large animals intensively to obtain marrow and fat, an essential part of their diet.
Though today they are restricted to the higher mountain ranges of the Trans-Pecos, such as the Davis and Guadalupe Mountains, black bears were once widespread in the region. Their bones have been found in archeological contexts at Hueco Tanks, but their ritual significance to the native peoples of the region may have surpassed their economic utility. Black bear remains were brought to the ritual cave of Cueva Pilote for what is believed to be a ceremonial purpose. Two bear long bones were found jammed under protruding ledges of rock on either side of the mouth of the cave. Black bears are also depicted in rock art at Jaguar Cave in Alamo Canyon.
Docks are leafy herbaceous plants that were widely used by native peoples for their edible greens, although the plant had other uses as well. Sand dock, or cañaigre, is native to the Trans-Pecos region and most of the Southwest. It grows from a tuberous root with erect leaves that branch from its base. Its favorite habitat is deep sand on streams, hence the name sand dock. A relative plant, Curly dock (Rumex crispus) is a European introduction that has spread across North America.
Cañaigre, Sand Dock, Wild Rhubarb
Soap Tree Yucca
Soap-tree yucca was used by native peoples as a source of food, fiber for basketry and cord, soap, and building material. The towering plant often resembles a palm tree with relatively thin leaves arranged in a rosette around a central stem or trunk. Mature plants develop a trunk, and can grow to a height of 5 or 6 meters, hence the name soap-tree. The leaves are long and leathery with tough stringy fibers. Young plants spread from the roots, so it is often observed in large colonies. When flowering they present an impressive show on the landscape.
Big Bend National Park
There is a place in Far West Texas where night skies are dark as coal and rivers carve temple-like canyons in ancient limestone. Here, at the end of the road, hundreds of bird species take refuge in a solitary mountain range surrounded by weather-beaten desert. Tenacious cactus bloom in sublime southwestern sun, and diversity of species is the best in the country. This magical place is....
The park administers 245 miles (394 km) of the Rio Grande for recreational use. There are professional river outfitters that provide tours of the river. Use of a personal boat is permitted but a free river float permit is required. In June 2009 the Department of Homeland Security began treating all float trips as trips that had left and re-entered the country, and required participants to have an acceptable form of identification, such as a passport.
Big Bend's primary attraction is its hiking and backpacking trails. Particularly notable among these are the Chimneys Trail, which visits a rock formation in the desert, the Marufo Vega trail, a loop trail that passes through scenic canyons on the way to and from the Rio Grande, and the Outer Mountain Loop trail in the Chisos, which begins in the Chisos Basin, climbs into the high mountains, descends into the desert along the Dodson Trail, and then returns to the Chisos Basin, completing a thirty mile loop. Other notable locations include Santa Elena Canyon, Grapevine Hills, and the Mule Ears, two imposing rock towers in the middle of the desert. Professional backpacking guide services provide trips in the park.
Big Bend is one of the largest, most remote, and least-visited national parks in the lower 48 United States.
There are two "river roads" in the area of Big Bend National Park. One is the scenic state highway connecting Lajitas to Presidio to the west of the park; the other is the fifty-mile primitive dirt road connecting Castolon to Rio Grande Village inside the national park.
The park’s many, varied ecotones—formed by river, desert, and mountains—result in outstanding diversity of wildlife.