West TX iNat gathering -- April 16-19, 2021! Elephant Mountain Wildlife Management Area

So, gathering with fellow iNatters is one of my favorite things to do in life. I love doing a gathering each year too.

Last year was a bit smaller in the Panhandle, and this upcoming one will likely be a bit smaller too. It's important to watch the COVID numbers, especially in Texas:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COVID-19_pandemic_in_Texas
The entire state may be completely shut down to travel by next April...

In case that it isn't completely shut down, perhaps we could gather over in West TX at Elephant Mountain WMA in April 16-19! Elephant Mountain is 23,000 acres, so there is plenty of area to 'spread out.'
https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/hunt/wma/find_a_wma/list/?id=7
Here's the place on iNat: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=57408

I'm calling it a gathering rather than a bioblitz -- the data collection will happen as a by product, no doubt, but the more important aspect of this is the gathering. If you do come to gather, of course, let's mask up if you can't keep distant, especially at the black-lighting.

Alpine is the closest 'city' and there are some hotels there:
https://www.hotels.com/de1746170/hotels-alpine-texas/
No bunk house availability (and I don't want folks to gather inside) -- but camping should work for folks. I'll likely camp most of the days.

Not sure of a specific schedule or anything, but those are the dates that I'm planning on jumping over to west TX to hopefully gather with a few others! Anyways, mark the calendars if you're wanting to come!
April 16-19, 2021 at Elephant Mountain Wildlife Management Area!


Some asked questions....

Can we drive on the WMA?

So, this will be a special gathering, so we should be able to access many of the roads throughout the WMA. Now, there may be some spots that we won't access (big horned sheep area, perhaps).

Can we stay at bunkhouse?

Nope. We'll maybe set up some blacklights around it (and there is electricity there), but we won't stay in the bunkhouse. I don't want to put more than 1 person in a building during COVID. It'll all be outside. :)

Can my friends come?

Sure! Although, I do hope that folks that do come are at least willing/open to doing some iNatting with us all. :) I hope this is a celebration of iNat and the folks that enjoy iNatting -- although, we're a welcoming group, so if someone isn't an iNatter, hopefully he/she/they will be after this event!

Can we collect specimens?

Wellll.... I do have a permit, and specimens can be collected under my permit, but I'd really like to narrow down some physical collection of specimens. There are a few folks that have asked me about this already, and we've discussed it a bit in detail. Ideally, if specimens are collected, we want to make sure to leave a herbarium voucher or specimen voucher at the nearby university (Sul Ross).

Do I have to get a limited use permit to come?

You don't HAVE to (again, I'll be there and it'll be under my permit), buuuut I sure would love it if you do get a $12 limited use permit (or especially a hunting permit)!!! :) It does help the WMA. Even if you don't plan on hunting, it really does help the entire TPWD Wildlife program:
https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/hunt/public/annual_public_hunting/

Why aren't you calling this a bioblitz?

Again, I want this mostly to be a gathering of naturalists to engage with nature. Sure, we'll collect some data, but that will be as a side-effect of the gathering. :)

Is this responsible to have a gathering during a pandemic?
I've had a few folks ask this, and it's genuinely a good question that we all need to take to heart. We will be playing this by ear, and I don't want anyone to feel any pressure or obligation to come if they don't feel comfortable to do so. There WILL be more of these in the future, so totally no frets if you can't make this one. I plan on wearing my mask throughout this gathering, and I'll pretty strongly enforce masks especially during the blacklighting when we'll be somewhat close together. I plan on going on quite a few times just by myself so I'll be able to keep a good distance from others. There are 23,000 acres, so hopefully we'll find some ways to keep at least 6 feet apart. :)

All of this to say that this gathering may be cancelled. The state may officially close the WMA entirely, even to outside TPWD folks (permit or not!). If that is the case, yep, we'll cancel this gathering and do it again when it's open and safe.
The pandemic is something that we should treat seriously, and I don't want anyone to feel uncomfortable.

If you do have some concerns about this, please let me know (either here or on a message or whatever). We will do more of these, so if you're not able to make it, we WILL do it again. :)

Publicado por sambiology sambiology, 18 de noviembre de 2020

Comentarios

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Yes, yes, yes!!!

Publicado por annikaml hace 2 meses (Marca)
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I will try but I may be in school still and I have been struggling with the online stuff. We are going to be online with school again and I had to wind up dropping one class this semester. So I will have to play it by ear my friend. I will try my best.

Publicado por galactic_bug_man hace 2 meses (Marca)
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Fingers crossed.

Publicado por tiwane hace 2 meses (Marca)
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I am counting the days. My usual 2-star motel room is reserved. It's going to be another great gathering of iNat folks!

Publicado por connlindajo hace 2 meses (Marca)
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It's on my calendar! West Texas in mid-April can be really interesting, depending on recent rainfall patterns. Hope for rain, vaccines, etc., etc.

Publicado por gcwarbler hace 2 meses (Marca)
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Publicado por annikaml hace 2 meses (Marca)
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YES! It's on my calendar! @connlindajo, you made me laugh!
@kayakqueen @thebark @samlutfy
@nathantaylor (if you happen to be available)

Publicado por amzapp hace 2 meses (Marca)
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I am new to iNat this year and have enjoyed it immensely. Please add me to your list. My husband and I enjoy camping in west Texas. We look forward to meeting you all if it is finally safe to do so.

Publicado por clairesorenson hace 2 meses (Marca)
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Putting it on my calendar.

Publicado por centratex hace 2 meses (Marca)
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I have yet to be able to make it to one of these but I really want to, so fingers crossed for 2021.

Publicado por jblinde hace 2 meses (Marca)
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Sam, can I assume that Elephant Mountain WMA either has a campground (perhaps undeveloped) or at least some open areas for dispersed camping (like Matador WMA)?

Publicado por gcwarbler hace 2 meses (Marca)
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I was just thinking about this yesterday!!!!! I'm starved for some travel, and would love to make a trip out there. It's on my calendar. Thanks for organizing!!!

Publicado por txstack hace 2 meses (Marca)
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Thanks, Sam! Alison, Jenny, and I will likely come barring some unforeseen craziness.

Publicado por hydaticus hace 2 meses (Marca)
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Well, how fun! Hope to see everyone there ... at least from a distance. Thanks, Sam!

Publicado por kathrynwells333 hace 2 meses (Marca)
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Sounds great. I'll add it to the calendar - I've long wanted to visit this WMA! But the usual caveats... work and class schedules will/may dictate availability.

Publicado por beschwar hace 2 meses (Marca)
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I’ll be there

Publicado por catenatus hace 2 meses (Marca)
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Oh wow! Thanks for the invite! Putting it on my calendar, too.

Publicado por baxter-slye hace 2 meses (Marca)
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@dbaxter we have been invited for a gathering!

Publicado por baxter-slye hace 2 meses (Marca)
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On the calendar. Might be in LRGV that week though. Harris Hawk study.

Publicado por mchlfx hace 2 meses (Marca)
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i might be interested if this is open to others- i would like to get to know more area naturalists and see this spot!

Publicado por rmcaesar hace 2 meses (Marca)
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I hope we get to see the elephants!

Publicado por jwn hace 2 meses (Marca)
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It pains me to say this, but I don't think there's any way I'll be able to make it. I look forward to seeing what everyone else posts, though! Euphorbia chaetocalyx and E. fendleri should be coming out around that time.

Publicado por nathantaylor hace 2 meses (Marca)
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@jwn If the peyote fits!
This sounds like fun! Penciling in and hope to make it happen. Thanks, Sam!

Publicado por lovebirder hace 2 meses (Marca)
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Would we have permission to drive while there so we can cover more territory? It looks like driving isn't allowed until May 1.

Publicado por lovebirder hace 2 meses (Marca)
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here’s some beetles recorded from the greater Trans-Pecos region:

http://texasento.net/TransPecos.html

Mike Quinn, Austin

Publicado por entomike hace 2 meses (Marca)
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It's on my calendar!

Publicado por wildcarrot hace 2 meses (Marca)
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OH **** YEAH. On my calendar. Can't wait!

Publicado por tadamcochran hace 2 meses (Marca)
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I'm so excited!! Love West Texas!

Publicado por tadamcochran hace 2 meses (Marca)
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yeah it’s gonna rock

Publicado por catenatus hace 2 meses (Marca)
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on my calendar, hope to make it work

Publicado por pynklynx hace 2 meses (Marca)
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Count me in Sam! Big fun coming but mask required. Mountains of elephants!

Publicado por mikef451 hace 2 meses (Marca)
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Putting on calendar for sure. Really hope to make it. But somewhat unlikely due to couple of other trips planned next year. Just in case does anyone know if there is electricity at the camping areas? For charging batteries and such at least?

Publicado por brentano hace 2 meses (Marca)
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on my calendar!

Publicado por knightericm hace 2 meses (Marca)
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Sam, could you add nancynorman to your address list on this trip

Thanks, and thanks for arranging this I will plan for it

Galen

Publicado por gpstewart hace 2 meses (Marca)
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Publicado por annikaml hace 2 meses (Marca)
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Publicado por catenatus hace 2 meses (Marca)
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Sound great! I drove by there on Sunday and thought, "That looks like a cool place to explore!"

Publicado por bosqueaaron hace 2 meses (Marca)
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@tuftedparidae if you can make this event it’s a great time of year to bup it up in the Trans Pecos

Publicado por catenatus hace 2 meses (Marca)
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Thank you for inviting me. I'll have to wait and see how the pandemic progresses this winter. I would go if my husband is vaccinated at the end of this year or before April. (We have two people in our house work in the hospital)

Publicado por pufferchung hace 2 meses (Marca)
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@catenatus Oof I wish I could make it, but being without a car in Stillwater makes it tough. I'll try to find a way--W TX is incredible for bups and I have absolutely none of them!

Publicado por tuftedparidae hace 2 meses (Marca)
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@catenatus Please educate me. What is a "bup"? Thanks.

Publicado por connlindajo hace 2 meses (Marca)
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Heeeeeey everybody!

I've actually gotten a whole slew of questions about this. :) Messages, emails, texts -- lots of excitement, I take it! :) Here are some answers:

Can we drive on the WMA?

So, this will be a special gathering, so we should be able to access many of the roads throughout the WMA. Now, there may be some spots that we won't access (big horned sheep area, perhaps).

Can we stay at bunkhouse?

Nope. We'll maybe set up some blacklights around it (and there is electricity there), but we won't stay in the bunkhouse. I don't want to put more than 1 person in a building during COVID. It'll all be outside. :)

Can my friends come?

Sure! Although, I do hope that folks that do come are at least willing/open to doing some iNatting with us all. :) I hope this is a celebration of iNat and the folks that enjoy iNatting -- although, we're a welcoming group, so if someone isn't an iNatter, hopefully he/she/they will be after this event!

Can we collect specimens?

Wellll.... I do have a permit, and specimens can be collected under my permit, but I'd really like to narrow down some physical collection of specimens. There are a few folks that have asked me about this already, and we've discussed it a bit in detail. Ideally, if specimens are collected, we want to make sure to leave a herbarium voucher or specimen voucher at the nearby university (Sul Ross).

Do I have to get a limited use permit to come?

You don't HAVE to (again, I'll be there and it'll be under my permit), buuuut I sure would love it if you do get a $12 limited use permit (or especially a hunting permit)!!! :) It does help the WMA. Even if you don't plan on hunting, it really does help the entire TPWD Wildlife program:
https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/hunt/public/annual_public_hunting/

Why aren't you calling this a bioblitz?

Again, I want this mostly to be a gathering of naturalists to engage with nature. Sure, we'll collect some data, but that will be as a side-effect of the gathering. :)

Is this responsible to have a gathering during a pandemic?
I've had a few folks ask this, and it's genuinely a good question that we all need to take to heart. We will be playing this by ear, and I don't want anyone to feel any pressure or obligation to come if they don't feel comfortable to do so. There WILL be more of these in the future, so totally no frets if you can't make this one. I plan on wearing my mask throughout this gathering, and I'll pretty strongly enforce masks especially during the blacklighting when we'll be somewhat close together. I plan on going on quite a few times just by myself so I'll be able to keep a good distance from others. There are 23,000 acres, so hopefully we'll find some ways to keep at least 6 feet apart. :)

All of this to say that this gathering may be cancelled. The state may officially close the WMA entirely, even to outside TPWD folks (permit or not!). If that is the case, yep, we'll cancel this gathering and do it again when it's open and safe.
The pandemic is something that we should treat seriously, and I don't want anyone to feel uncomfortable.

If you do have some concerns about this, please let me know (either here or on a message or whatever). We will do more of these, so if you're not able to make it, we WILL do it again. :)

****I'll put these in the top journal entry too, just so that these answers are there too. :)

Publicado por sambiology hace 2 meses (Marca)
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Following. Will definitely keep this on my radar.

Publicado por rymcdaniel hace 2 meses (Marca)
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@connlindajo bup is short for buprestid :)

Publicado por catenatus hace 2 meses (Marca)
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Dang, this sounds like fun. I've been wanting to make it to one of your gatherings. I'll have to see how work is shaking out in April. Would it be possible to bring our living quarters horse trailer to stay in? My husband isn't an iNatter, but he's a biologist, so would really enjoy it as well.

Publicado por dcarrie hace 2 meses (Marca)
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Publicado por connlindajo hace 2 meses (Marca)
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@annikaml, thanks! I will put in for vacation time now!

Publicado por lulubelle hace 2 meses (Marca)
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Ugh... Why must YOU people target my favorite WMA's? Matador and Elephant Mountain WMA's are for my roaming only. Ha!

The campground has about a dozen covered picnic area's and a vault composting toilet style facilities structure. Not huge but should be able to accommodate a decent amount of tents at a reasonable distance. Alpine is also an easy 30 minute drive with many hotels for the non-roughing it types.

@sambiology I had forgotten that Lambing season doesn't wrap up until the end of April. So that very well could limit our wandering to the west side of the mountain in the driving tour area, which is still substantial. It'll be easier to manage expectations of all, if everyone understands that going in. Then on the very slim chance that we are allowed a bit more to roam on, we can all be pleasantly surprised.

But for those that may want to curb their wanderlust a bit, or firm up their Brewster County Records a bit more, Big Bend is an hour south, Fort Pena park south of Marathon is about an hour back to the north and east or a jaunt over to Carolyn Ohl's Christmas Mountain Oasis is about 45 minutes away. All have great opportunities for iNat-ing.

Publicado por oddfitz hace 2 meses (Marca)
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It's on my calendar.

Publicado por cameralenswrangler hace 2 meses (Marca)
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Great! Thanks for the invite, Sam. I should be able to make it so long as I can secure the time, lots of great things to see out there in April!

Publicado por aidancampos hace 2 meses (Marca)
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@cmeckerman ICYMI...

Publicado por entomike hace 2 meses (Marca)
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Thanks for the link @entomike I will definitely have to look at going. I love West Texas in Spring.

Publicado por cmeckerman hace 2 meses (Marca)
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Putting it on the calendar!

Publicado por k8thegr8 hace 2 meses (Marca)
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I'm going to try and make 1 or 2 days and combine with a trip to the Big Bend as we have been wanting to go and have never made it yet. I suspect not best to pick the first or last day in hopes of seeing the most people. Will you be at the same places each day or will you move around? I can wait till we get closer but would love to be there for the mothing as well depending on what night we do that as well.

Publicado por butterflies4fun hace alrededor de 2 meses (Marca)
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Oh my goodness! Is this open for CTMN colleagues? I would love to do this- it's even on my birthday! :)

Publicado por enoelanna hace alrededor de 1 mes (Marca)
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I'll be there. I just recovered from COVID so I should still be immune by then.

Publicado por eric_keith hace 23 días (Marca)
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@enoelanna Absolutely!

Publicado por bosqueaaron hace 22 días (Marca)
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@paul_crump I hope you are able to join the gathering.

Publicado por connlindajo hace 13 días (Marca)
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Yaaah, so I'm going to back out, so as not spend my discretionary dollars in that state. It's a sociopolitical choice, cannot discuss it here.

Publicado por ellen5 hace 4 días (Marca)

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