For the love of frogs

By Rick LoBello

It’s frog time again and I was happy to see it raining last night. It was probably a little too cool for most frogs to be out and about, but then again I didn’t have a chance to go outside and look.

As the days get warmer and the rains return frog time in the Chihuahuan Desert is critical to the survival of many species that have been waiting underground for the right time to breed. Not every frog that buried itself last summer to estivate during the cooler dry season will wake up if it did not eat enough to see it through. Soon the survival of the fittest will come into play when the survivors of 2018 awaken.

If you have never experienced seeing frogs calling at night you are missing out on an amazing primordial event. Check out this video I uploaded a while back to see what I mean. Two of the common species in El Paso are Couches spadefoot toad and the red-spotted toad.

Let’s connect

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One of the graphics we installed at Cleveland Square in downtown El Paso.

by Rick LoBello, Chair

Some of the nicest people you will ever meet love and appreciate the great outdoors.  The Chihuahuan Desert Education Coalition based in El Paso is one of those groups.   If you would like to learn more about our desert region and make some new friends at the same time, connect with us at one of our meetings.   We can answer questions and if you want to get involved with helping us there are numerous ways you can share your talent and skills.

One of the projects we would like to improve over time is our habitat certification program.  The goal is to encourage people to landscape with native plants to help conserve water and create more habitat for desert neighbors who have been displaced by development projects.   Unfortunately El Paso as a city has yet to value the desert enough to want to protect it better.    It may cost a little bit more and take some effort, but why not leave the desert soils alone and leave nature as we found it by developing with it rather than against it?

Check out this picture.   One of my best friends his wife built this house about five years ago and were very careful to keep the desert intact.  It is so refreshing to live in a desert home like this rather than one surrounded by a concrete jungle.
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Lechuguilla, creosote bush and desert succulents like cactus, ocotillo and yucca surround my friends home in the desert and he did not have to plant a single one.

We are currently meeting once a month working on improving our organization and a strategic plan.   If you would like to learn more and receive a meeting invite contact us.
We meet at various locations in El Paso on the third Tuesday of the month at 7pm.

Enjoy the Chihuahuan Desert.


Volunteers needed for Saturday event


You can help us reach more people about the Chihuahuan Desert and our mission by volunteering from noon to 4pm to help promote CDEC at Trash to Treasure on Saturday, April 27.   Fifty percent of the events proceeds will be donated to CDEC.  To sign up contact Liz Demoultrie at

The event is expecting 200-500 people at the International Museum of Art 1211, Montana Ave. 79902.  Set up will begin at noon.  They are having a preview party for a small group from 1-2, then the general public will be allowed in from 2-4.

We will meet with you before the event to give you materials to pass out at our table.  If you have a small table you can bring that would also be helpful.  If not we will get one for you.


We’re looking for you

Kangaroo rats will often burrow in the softer desert soil either under a cactus or desert shrub like creosote.

The Chihuahuan Desert Education Coalition is looking for new members to serve on our board of directors or volunteer for projects that may take an hour or less or a day at the park.  We are looking everywhere and would love to hear from you.    Currently we are meeting the third Tuesday of the month at 7pm.  All members and non-members are invited to attend.

To get on our meeting invite list please contact us.
To learn how to become a member click here.

Don’t miss this nature walk on Saturday


Discover our vanishing Rio Grande wetlands

By Rick LoBello

If I were to list a handful of names of people in El Paso who really know and understand the most threatened natural environments in our area, John Sproul would be one of them.   For many years John has been the face of the Rio Bosque Wetlands Park in the Lower Valley.  His hard work and passion for conserving our vanishing wetlands is obvious to this observer and hundreds of others who have met him.   On Saturday, March 23 John will lead a two hour walk through the wetlands in one of the least known areas of El Paso.  If you have never been to this part of El Paso now is the time to make plans.

The FREE two-mile easy walking tour of the park will be from 9am to 11am.   Coming from the north on Loop 375 take the Pan American Exit and turn left under the freeway.  Travel 1.5 miles until you reach the bridge crossing the Riverside Canal.  For more details on how to get there especially if you are going for the first time, visit the park’s website at   The site is loaded with all kinds of great information including a map, management plans and more about the park’s flora and fauna.

Join John this weekend and if you can’t make it get on his email list to learn more about upcoming events and volunteer information by emailing John at

Desert Reset

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The Chihuahuan Desert Education Coalition (CDEC) was founded in 2004 at the El Paso Zoo to serve as a resource on information about the Chihuahuan Desert, to encourage lifelong learning about the Chihuahuan Desert and to encourage collaboration among public educators, the public and CDEC.

Last year we lost a little steam in achieving some of our goals.  This happens from time to time with volunteer organizations like ours where most people involved are working full time jobs.  That said our 14th Annual Chihuahuan Desert Fiesta at Franklin Mountains State Park in 2018 recorded its second highest attendance.  Special thanks to everyone who played a role in helping make it happen.

To help us get back on track with a desert reset to evaluate our goals and mission, we are polling our current Board of Directors, past members and other interested folks to find a good time to have a spring meeting.  CDEC has many opportunities in 2019 to increase its conservation impact especially with all the local interest in new hiking trails, the Chihuahuan Desert Conference in November and the fall opening of a new $14 million-dollar Chihuahuan Desert exhibit at the Zoo.

Thanks for your interest in our group.  We would love to have you join us.   Two easy ways to stay in touch include entering your email address to the “follow link” on our blog at and liking our Facebook page.

A doodle poll will be sent out soon.  Please watch for it and if the dates and times work for you, I hope to see you at our next meeting.   If you are not sure if you are on our email list and want to attend, please send me an email at



Rick LoBello, Chair

Welcome back Gertrud

Dr. Gertrud Konings is back on our new website as an Administrator.  She is one of the hardest working CDEC members ever.  She is solely responsible for approving all certified habitat applications and most of the content on our Teachers and Resources pages.  She also updates our events page.  The YouTube video link above focuses on our efforts to encourage people to landscape with native plants.  In case you have not noticed we have made applying for Chihuahuan Desert Education Coalition Certified Habitat much easier with a new online Survey Monkey form.

Hello everyone


Hello from El Paso,

Our new website is up and running.   We apologize for the delay.   Hopefully we will be adding lots of new content soon.  Please send comments, pictures, stories and more to my office at   We would love to hear from you.

Rick LoBello
Vice Chair, Chihuahuan Desert Education Coalition