Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Sasabe and the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge

For whatever reason, no one felt like riding the bicycles today.  A road trip seemed like a good idea.  We drove down to the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge.  We ended up going to Sasabe first because we were curious about the town.  It's very sad.  This is the supermarket.  It's closed on Tuesdays.  They do have a K - 8 school (27 students) but all of the kids come from Arrivaca and surrounding areas.  There are no kids in Sasabe.

The town is looking abandoned.  One could probably buy all of it except for the post office and the Border Patrol outpost.

Sasabe is right on the border with Mexico.  It used to be a functioning town.  Apparently Sasabe, Mexico is larger.  We couldn't go over because we didn't have passsports or Mexican car insurance.  This is the border checkpoint.  We saw one car go through.

This is the wall.  It's a 10 mile stretch of border fence.

You can see it stretching out into the distance.  It's not a good thing.  Wildlife can't get through the fence.  Animals used to roam freely in this area, now they don't.  Immigrants have to walk farther to get around it.

Eventually we reached the BANWR.  We had a lovely chat with a volunteer at the visitor's center and learned many things.  During the late 1800s, thousands of cattle were run in the area which is now the refuge.  The area was over grazed with predictable results.  Then there was a drought.  Then there was a flood.  The landscape suffered.   In the the 1970s Lehmann lovegrass, a South African grass, was introduced to try to control erosion and bring back the grass lands.  That was bad, it's a non-native invasive species.  Attempts have been made to check its spread, but with limited success.  Fire is one tool that is being used, unfortunately that causes the buffel grass seeds to sprout.  Prong horns have been reintroduced to the area, as have masked bobwhites.

There is another major problem facing the refuge.  The dreaded Mesquite.  The trees have up to a 190 foot tap root.  They suck out all of the available moisture from the ground.  The grass can not compete.  Sierra Club comes in once a year and cuts some down, but they're losing the battle.  The refuge should (IMHO) consider letting the firewood guys come in and take all the trees they want.

It was an interesting drive.  The area is pretty in an austere way.  When it greens up in the spring, it should be lovely.

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