something back they didn ' t have before : maybe it ’ s the vastness of a sweeping vista or being surrounded by a thunderstorm as it forms right above their heads . That intimate experience with nature makes people want to save it . When people leave , I want them to be thinking , “ What can I do to keep the Davis Mountains preserved ? What can I do to keep Big Bend National Park protected ?” on , show people how to manage their properties , and take action to prevent disasters . “
On the role of ranchers and private landowners in conservancy :
“ Some of our best conservancy partners are ranchers and private landowners . They ’ ve lived here for generations . They know the climate , they know what works , they know what doesn ' t work . They educate us as much as we educate them . When there is a disturbance that ’ s damaged their land , we ’ ll work together to ensure their property stays as healthy as it can be .”
On climate change : “ Climate change has shown its face in a huge way . Desertification , drought , loss of grassland , fewer birds migrating , loss of our Ponderosa Pines at the Davis Mountains Preserve – these are enormous problems . Each year more grasslands dry up . The amount of dust in the air is ten times what it was 17 years ago . Creeks don ’ t flow the way that they used to . Monsoons are later . The weather is more violent .
“ These problems need our attention . When you live out here on the brink , the effects of climate change make obvious changes on the landscape and you can ’ t help but notice and be concerned . Watching the local citizens and guests get engaged in the issues contributing to climate change gives me hope .”
On the legacy she hopes to leave behind : “ I want people to feel as though they have a voice , and that they have access to the places The Nature Conservancy protects . My hope is to make an intimate connection with our mission . One of the ways I do that is bringing people into the preserve so they can take
On what she will miss the most :
“ Without a doubt , what I ’ ll miss the most is the sky , the night sky , the stars , the sunrises , sunsets , the clear blue against the red rock of Sleeping Lion Mountain against that deep blue sky .
“ And , of course incredible friends , how quirky , welcoming and unique our communities are . And , the ease of parking . You can park anywhere you want , there ' s less than a five-minute walk anywhere you want to go . I ' m gonna miss that a lot .”
We sat silent for a moment . “ You know what I want to do with you ?” she asked . “ I want to take you to the Tall Rock Shelter , one of Davis Mountain Preserve ’ s archeological sites . I want you to go with me to a place in your mind .”
For the next few minutes Tara shared her 26 mile ride down into Little Aguja canyon with her volunteer . After traversing boulders , navigating cliff edges , and pulling aside branches to navigate the steep terrain , they arrived a bit bruised , dirty and chewing dust . They walked the final 300 feet down into the canyon full of trees - big tooth maples , ash , cottonwoods , vines — to a jagged , angled overhang 100 feet tall . As she passed through the gate into the sanctuary , she was surrounded by several 17 foot rock panels with solid red lines of ancient rock art , bright as if they were painted yesterday . “ No one knows what they were for , but many speculate it was a spiritual location .” She paused .
“ To be in that space , with the sun on the paint , the trees with their young lime green leaves , one or two birds singing , and a warm sun on my back , was powerful . There was no no other human for miles . That night , as the sun slowly crept up the overhang , a common blackhawk , which is quite uncommon here , flew in the front of the shelter , ascended above the paintings , floated for a minute , then dropped down into the canyon . That is a moment I ' ll take with me , forever .”
Cenizo Summer 2021