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.

No meeting in December – Holiday Potluck instead.

Sunday, December 15, noon to 2:00 pm at The Commons, 501 East 13th Street – Come celebrate the holidays together. Elroy will provide the usual pork loin roast. Bring your best potluck dish, your own plates, cups and utensils, and the beverage of your choice – water and iced tea provided.

Previews of 2020 Meeting Programs

Friday, January 17, 2019 – Meeting. “Medicinal Plants of the Silva Creek Garden,” presenter Naava Koenigsberg.  Naava’s talk will focus on some of the native plants that will be included in the new medicinal plant bed at the Silva Creek Botanical Garden, to be put in this spring. She will discuss the habitats and medicinal properties of several plants, as well as how to use them. Naava Koenigsberg is the owner of Bear Creek Herbs and has been a practicing herbalist for over 20 years. Naava moved to Silver City in 1996 after working for several years for Plants of the Southwest in Santa Fe. In addition to being a Clinical Herbalist, she is a Certified Permaculture Designer and Certified Ecological Horticulturalist.

Friday, February 21, 2020 – Meeting. “Madagascar: The Red Island … A Naturalist’s Paradise”, presenter Zachary Rogers

Madagascar, as the 4th largest island in the world, is home to tens of thousands of native species of plants and animals that only occur there and nowhere else. Over millions of years, these fascinating endemic species have evolved specialized, often unique, adaptations for survival, with all of this taking place in isolation from ancestors living on nearby landmasses like Eastern Africa, India, and small Indian Ocean archipelagos. Sadly, Madagascar, as a slowly developing country, also has one of the most highly threatened floras and faunas in the world. Join us along with New Mexico State University plant scientist, Zachary Rogers, who will guide the group on a virtual tour of the island surveying its “mega-biodiversity”, while showcasing recent taxonomic plant research and new conservation efforts aimed at protecting the rarest, most threatened species. Zachary is Herbarium Curator in the Animal and Range Sciences Department at New Mexico State University. He also worked for many years for the Missouri Botanical Garden and has done extensive botanical research in Madagascar.

Friday, March 20, 2020 – Meeting. “Spring Blooms in the Southwest: Not Just Creosote Bush,” presenter Donna Stevens. Not to disparage Creosote Bush, of course, which is one of the best smells on the planet. While spring in the Southwest is not the same as in the East, it still offers much to celebrate. If November is any predictor of winter precipitation, the spring 2020 bloom will be glorious. And if November turns out to be an anomaly, there will still be plenty of wildflowers to enjoy in the spring. This presentation will feature some of the most common spring wildflowers in southwest New Mexico. Donna Stevens is a co-author of Common Southwestern Native Plants: An Identification Guide, now in its third edition. Her idea of a good time is taking a hike to observe our beautiful native flora.

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.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Our November speaker was Patrice Mutchnick, founder of the Heart of the Gila organization, who spoke “Gila Wilderness Canyon Flora:  Natives and the Riparian Invasion.”

Middle Fork of the Gila

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 plant species from riparian corridors. Patrice’s talk included extensive photo documentation from the project and offered insights into the floral diversity of several remote side canyons of the Gila River.

As Patrice explained, “The multiple disturbances from the 2011-2014 fires and the intense 2013 flood have re-shaped the riparian landscapes of the Gila River. While side canyons are generally intact botanically, the mainstem areas of the Middle Fork of the Gila River are inundated with non-native species.”

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 worked as a plant collector for the Smithsonian’s Biological Diversity of the Guianas Program, served as 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 and is Board Chair of the non-profit, Heart of the Gila, founded in honor of her daughter, Ella Jaz Kirk.

People of all ages participated…Zea May Blood on our first stewardship workshop with the Gila Native Plant Society in Swallow Tail Canyon

Heart of the Gila volunteers Abel Lazzell and Kaya Thompson remove Mullein seed heads on Little Creek