Meeting Programs

Evening meetings of the Gila Native Plant Society will be held throughout the fall, winter and spring on the third Friday of the month  at 7.00 p.m. in Harlan Hall, second floor, Room 219, corner of Alabama and 12th Streets, on the Western New Mexico University campus. Free and open to the public. Refreshments following the program.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Our November speaker will be Patrice Mutchnick, founder of the Heart of the Gila organization. Patrice will speak on “Gila Wilderness Canyon Flora:  Natives and the Riparian Invasion.”

This past summer, with help from a grant from the National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance, Heart of the Gila held four canyon stewardship days and executed a five-day field trip to inventory canyon natives and identify and remove non-native species from riparian corridors. This talk will offer insight into the floral diversity of several remote side canyons of the Gila River. While side canyons are generally intact botanically, the main stem of the Middle Fork of the Gila River is inundated with non-native species. As Patrice explains, “The incredible disturbances from the 2011-2014 fires and the intense 2013 flood has re-shaped the riparian landscapes of the Gila River. I’d like to do a program on this dynamic, explain what we found along the Middle Fork in regard to non-native plant populations and give a glimpse into the diversity of those canyons where native populations remain intact. I have pictures and data to share from areas around Jordan Hot Springs where our crew removed thousands of non-natives.”

Patrice Mutchnick received a Bachelor of Science from the School of Forestry at the University of Maine and a Masters in Plant Biology and Environmental Studies from Ohio University. She has worked as a plant collector for the Smithsonian’s Biological Diversity of the Guianas Program, was Biology Lab Director at Western New Mexico University from 2004 to 2014, conducted rare plant studies in the Gila National Forest, and was biological lead on the tamarisk removal project in the Gila Wilderness in 2016. She is currently working on riparian restoration projects in the Gila.

Previews of 2020 Meeting Programs

January: Naava Koenigsberg on Ethnobotany

February: Zach Rogers on the Flora of Madagascar

March: Donna Stevens on Plant Identification

April: Manda Jost on Insect Conservation

May: Ed Leuck on Cacti

Past Meetings:

Friday, October 18, 2019

Melanie Gisler cleaning seed

The speaker at our first meeting of the season was Melanie Gisler, Director of the Southwest Office of the Institute of Applied Ecology (IAE) in Santa Fe, who spoke on “State-wide Conservation Initiatives for New Mexico’s Native Plants” – a subject she knows more about than anyone. Here is her description of her talk:

Description:  The Institute for Applied Ecology (IAE) opened an office in Santa Fe in 2015 and has since initiated several new programs for native plants of New Mexico, many in partnership with the Native Plant Society, including: the Southwest Seed Partnership (a regional native plant materials project to increase the availability and diversity of native seed for large scale restoration projects), Forest Bound (a native plant outdoor education program for high school students), a large-scale dust mitigation restoration research project with New Mexico Department of Transportation, New Mexico Nature in Prisons (a horticultural training and native plant propagation program at the State Penitentiary), as well as new rare plant conservation strategies and seed banking.  Collaboration with multiple local conservation organizations have been key to the story of success for these large-scale initiatives.  In addition, IAE currently has a team based in Silver City scouting for and documenting populations of native species suitable for dust mitigation and collecting seed for this research.  This presentation provided an overview of each of these conservation initiatives, as well as our Gila-based work, and invited feedback on a vision for future native plant projects in New Mexico.

Bio:   Melanie Gisler is the Director for the Southwest Office of the Institute for Applied Ecology. She received her Master of Science degree in Botany from the University of British Columbia and Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of New Mexico. Prior to joining IAE, Melanie worked in botany and restoration ecology for several public agencies including the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station, NRCS Los Lunas Plant Materials Center, and the City of Austin’s Zilker Botanical Garden. For the last 18 years at IAE she has led regional native plant materials development and restoration programs as well as recovery projects for rare plants and butterflies. Thanks to her hard work on behalf of native plants, Melanie was this year’s recipient of the Jack and Martha Carter Native Plant Conservation Award.