Natural History of the Gila Symposium

Mission Statement

The Natural History of the Gila Symposium’s mission is to provide a venue for researchers, land managers, conservationists, and educators to meet and share information and ideas gathered from the Gila Region including watersheds and neighboring areas extending into southwestern New Mexico, southeastern Arizona and Mexico.

Partners for this symposium include the United States Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Native Plant Society of New Mexico–Gila Chapter, and Western New Mexico University.

Gila National Forest Service funding allows everyone to attend the Natural History of the Gila Symposium FREE OF CHARGE.

8th Natural History of the Gila Symposium

Program at a Glance

Thursday 27 February

Noon – 1:00        Registration in the foyer, Global Resource Center

1:00 – 1:30          Opening address

1:30 – 2:15         Keynote Speaker:  Tom Turner

2:40 – 5:05          Concurrent Sessions:  Database Assessment/Wildlife

5:15 – 7:00          Social (Sunset Room 2nd floor of WNMU Student Center)

7:00 – 8:30         Creative Voices (Miller Library Commons)

Friday 28 February

8:30 – 9:00          Awards Presentation

9:00 – 9:45          Keynote Speaker:  Karl Malcolm

10:00 – 12:00     Concurrent Sessions:  Archaeology/Policy and Climate

12:00 – 1:00       Lunch on Your Own

1:00 – 3:00          Concurrent Sessions: Fire and Wildlife/Plants.

1:00 – 5:15           Posters available for viewing

3:00 – 3:20         BREAK

3:00 – 3:40         Dutch Salmon Panel

3:20 – 5:15          Session:  Fluvial Geomorphology and Cows

Saturday 29 February

8:00 am              Field Trips

Social:  Thursday, Feb. 27 at 5:15-7:00 PM

Sunset Room on the 2nd floor of the Thomas B. McDonald Memorial Building (WNMU Student Center)

No charge.  Pick up a “ticket” at the registration table in the Global Resource Center.  A $5 donation at the social is welcome.

Meet friends old and new.  The WNMU catering will host a delicious assortment of tapas.  Make this your dinner!  A cash bar of beer and wine is also available.  Follow up with Creative Voices!

Creative Voices: Thursday, Feb. 27 at 7:00-8:30 PM

Student Memorial Union Meeting Room (one floor up from the Social)

Local and regional authors will share their work.

Field Trips: Saturday, Feb. 29 at 8:00 AM

Meet in front of the Besse-Forward Global Resource Center


Recommended Eateries Close to Campus

WNMU Cafeteria, 2nd floor Student Memorial Building                 Forrest’s Pizza

Tapas Tree Grill                                                                                 Adobe Springs Café

Diane’s Restaurant                                                                           La Cocina

Diane’s Bakery                                                                                  Vicki’s Eatery

Fry House                                                                                           Little Toad Creek Brewery

Jalisco Mexican Food                                                                        The Grinder Mill

Q’s Southern Bistro                                                                           Corner Kitchen

Nancy’s Silver Café


Coffee and Tea: Javalina’s, Tranquil Buzz, Jumping Cactus


2020 Planning Committee Members

Wen-chi Chen – Western New Mexico University

Joneen (Jony) Cockman – AZ BLM Safford

Gregor Hamilton — University of New Mexico

Beth Leuck—Retired, Professor Emerita of Biology

Dustin Meyers – USFS Gila NF

Corrie Neighbors – Western New Mexico University

William (Bill) Norris – Western New Mexico University

Theodore (Ted) Presler – Retired, Silver City Thespian

Roland Shook – Retired, Professor Emeritus WNMU

Heather Steinmann – Western New Mexico University

Kathy Whiteman – Western New Mexico University

Recognition of Student Presenters

Although not specifically stated in our mission statement, the mentoring and nurturing of the next generation of conservationists is very important to us.  We welcome our student presenters and wish them the best of luck.  Student presenters are marked with an asterisk throughout the program.

Aldo Leopold Junior Class, Aldo Leopold Charter School, Silver City, NM

Scott Thomas Boyle,  New Mexico State University

Hannah Cantrell,  University New Mexico and Natural Heritage

Lindsey Cron, New Mexico State University

Katrina M. Derieg, University of New Mexico

Jonathan Duran, University of New Mexico

Zack Farley, New Mexico State University

Danielle Romero, University Nevada Las Vegas

Jorden Scott, New Mexico State University

Sara Smith, Northern Arizona University

Cara Thompson, New Mexico State University


Thursday 27 February

Besse-Forward Global Resource Center Auditorium


1:00 – 1:30 pm Welcome:  Joneen Cockman, Matthew Schultz, WNMU


1:30 – 2:15 pm Keynote Speaker:  Tom Turner

Introduced by:  Joneen (Jony) Cockman


  Global Resource Center Auditorium Global Resource Center ABC Room
Concurrent Sessions Database Assessment Wildlife
Moderators Theodore (Ted) Presler Dustin Meyers


2:40 – 3:00 pm Hannah Cantrell*— Sharing Paleontology of the Gila at New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Zack Farley*— Assessing the Impact of a Recovering Predator Population on Prey Vigilance
3:05 – 3:25 pm A.T. Cole— Aldo Leopold and the Climate Crisis Ronald Parry— A User-friendly Website to Aid the Identification of Moths Occurring in the Gila National Forest
3:30 – 3:50 Cara Thompson*– Influence of Mexican Gray Wolf on Elk Resource Selection


3:55 – 4:15 pm Martha S. Cooper— Building Collaborative Capacity for Forest Restoration on the Gila National Forest


Katrina M. Derieg*— A Potentially New Woodrat Endemic to the Gila


4:20 – 4:40 pm Van Clothier— Hydrologic Restoration of Degraded Grassland in Arid and Semiarid Regions


Jason Malaney— New Records of the Endangered Jumping Mice, Zapus luteus, Provide a Predictive Basis for Future Conservation Plans in the Gila


4:45 – 5:05 PM Kristin Lundgren—Weaving Resilient Agriculture with Microfarming  in Silver City, New Mexico Nancy Livingston—On WNMU’s Living Mascots:  Our Southwestern Cliff Swallows (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota tachina and P. p. swainsoni)
Thursday Evening Activities


5:15 – 7:00 pm Social: Sunset Room on the 2nd floor of the Thomas B. McDonald memorial Building (WNMU Student Center)


7:00 – 8:30 pm Creative Voices: Miller Library Commons

Moderator: Heather Steinmann

Featuring:  Jack Crocker, Sharman Russell, Leonore Hildebrant, Robert Froese, Pamela Williams, Beate Sigriddaughter, Laura Ramnarace, Tony Russ


Friday 28 February

Besse-Forward Global Resource Center Auditorium


8:30 – 9:00 am Awards Honoring:  Art Telles Jr., Joe Saenz, Ronald Parry, Nick Smith

Introductions by:  Gregor Hamilton


9:00 – 9:45 am Keynote Speaker:  Karl Malcolm:  Five Lessons from The Naturalists, The Technophiles, and the Transcendent Translators




  Global Resource Center Auditorium Global Resource Center ABC Room
Concurrent Sessions Archaeology Policy and Climate


Moderators William (Bill) Norris


Joneen (Jony) Cockman
10:00 – 10:20 am Christopher D. Adams— Overview of Late 18th Century – 19th Century Apache Sites Located Along the Mimbres Valley, Gila National Forest


Vandy Starkweather— The New Mexico Night Sky and Why We Need To Protect It
10:25 – 10:45 am Belinda Mollard— Ritual Landscapes of the Gila Region


Susan Beck— Military Flight Training Over The Gila Region
10:50 – 11:10 am Fumi Arakawa— Archaeological Investigation at the Diamond Creek Locality in Gila National Forest


Axie Navas— The Power of the Outdoor Recreation Economy in New Mexico
11:15 – 11:35 am Jorden Scott*— The Native Perspective


Joneen Cockman— Spring Soils, Lotic Flow and WOTUS in Hard Rock Country




11:40 – 12:00 pm Lindsey Cron*— Pottery Analysis of Feature 2 at Berrenda Creek:  An Introduction to an Orphaned Collection


David DuBois— A Look Back at the Last 120 Years of Climate in SW New Mexico and Looking Forward
12:00 -1:00 pm Lunch on Your Own

(list of eateries on p. 4)

1:00 – 5:15 pm Poster Presentations

Global Resource Center Hallway near foyer

Presenters at their posters 1:00-2:00


Sarah Smith*— Preserving Ecosystem Services of the Gila River Watershed in the Face of Climate Uncertainties


Danielle Romero*— Four Years at The Elk Ridge Ruin: What We Have Learned and Where We Are Going


Jonathan Duran*— Abundance and Distribution of Sonora Mud Turtles Along the Upper Gila River In New Mexico


  Global Resource Center Auditorium Global Resource Center ABC Room
Concurrent Sessions Fire and Wildlife Plants


Moderators Gregor Hamilton William (Bill) Norris


1:00 – 1:20 pm Randy Jennings— Conserving Narrow-headed Gartersnakes by Keeping Common Fish Species Common


Ries Lindley— Globemallows are Looking for a Little Understanding


1:25 – 1:45 pm Aldo Leopold Charter School Junior Class*— Native Gila Fish Tanks


William R. Norris— A Floristic Inventory of the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument (Catron Co., NM, USA)


1:50 – 2:10 pm Heidi Blasius—  Mechanical Removal of Green Sunfish from Bonita Creek, a Closed System


Martha S. Cooper— Gila River Floodplain Restoration through Non-native Tree Removal
2:15 – 2:35 pm James Brooks— Aquatic Habitat Assessment and Monitoring in Willow Creek with Citizen Science Support


Kyle Skaggs— Working Toward Sustainable Agriculture: Frisco Farm
2:40 – 3:00 pm Scott Thomas Boyle*— Cause-specific Mortality and Survival of Elk in the Mexican Wolf Recovery Area in New Mexico and Arizona




Session Global Resource Center Auditorium Global Resource Center ABC Room
  Fluvial Geomorphology and Cows Dutch Salmon Panel

(3:00 – 3:40 pm)

Moderators Joneen (Jony) Cockman Theodore (Ted) Presler


3:20 – 3:40 pm Mary Harner— Shifting Channels of the Gila: Historical Analysis of Land-cover Change along the Cliff-Gila Valley Floodplain from 1935 to 2016


Panel Speakers TBA
3:45 – 4:05 pm Joe Trudeau— Livestock Impacts to Protected Rivers in the Gila Watershed F. Jack Triepke— Assessing Climate Vulnerability of the Gila National Forest


4:10 – 4:50 pm Joneen Cockman— The Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area – A River in Transition Maximillian Wahlberg— Aquatic and Riparian Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment of the Southwestern United States

(4:10 – 4:30 pm)


4:55 – 5:15 pm Andrés Cibils— Raramuri Criollo Cattle and Climate Change in the Desert Southwest


*indicates a student presenter


Saturday 29 February

Field Trips

1.)  Plants on the Campus of Western New Mexico University

8:30 am – 11:30 am

Leader:  Richard Felger

We will see many native and exotic trees and shrubs. Emphasis will be on places of origin and uses including ethnobotany. We will make a list of campus plants for posting on line.

Meeting place: In front of Global Resource Center (where the symposium was held).


2.)  Birds of City of Rocks State Park (Cienega Trail)

8:00 am (from Silver City) OR 9:00 am (at City of Rocks)

Leaders:  Karen Beckenbach and William (Bill) Norris

We will see birds typical of desert grasslands, desert scrublands and a cienaga at one of New Mexico’s most popular state parks. Sparrows (including sagebrush sparrow), thrashers (including crissal thrasher), verdin, hawks and owls are all possibilities.

Meeting place/time:  8:00 am in front of the Global Resource Center if you wish to follow the field trip leaders to the park, OR 9:00 am at the Cienaga Trailhead just south of the park entrance. Park entrance fees apply ($5 per vehicle).