Jun 172013

What IS Right With America? Our National Treasures 

Leave it to Texas to have a national park whose name begins with the word “Big”! Big Bend National Park indeed includes some very BIG features indeed. Here are just a few of them: 

Congress passed legislation authorizing the park in 1935, but stated that the acreage should be secured by both “public and private donations.” Although most of the land had been purchased by 1942, it was not until 1972 that the entire area originally slated to be included in the park actually became federal land. 

This national park is bigger than Rhode Island and covers more than 1200 miles. It is the largest protected area of Chihuahuan Desert ecology and topography in America. The temperatures in the area have been described as ranging from “killing heat” to “freezing cold.” It is also one of ten areas on the entire planet that is certified by the Dark-Sky Association for dark sky stargazing. 

244 miles of the park marks the international border with Mexico. The name “Big Bend” refers to a bend in border area created by the Rio Grande. The river began running through the area more than 2 million years ago, and it is responsible for the Boquillas, Mariscal, and Santa Elena canyons. Those formations, which were created by erosion, are visible along the river in the southern region of the park. Limestones of various geological ages adorn Big Bend National Park, and volcanic rocks can be seen in the Pine Canyon caldera complex.
Artifacts, older than 9000 years in age, have been found in the park. It is estimated that the Paleo-Indian period in the area began more than 10,000 years ago. The native population has included members of the Comanche, Mescalero Apache, Chisos, Jumanos, and Jornado Mogollon nations. 

The fossilized remains of the Quetzalcoathus Northropi, whose wingspan measured 35 feet, were first found in the park in 1971. This pterosaur is the second largest flying animal found on the planet. Big Bend National Park is currently home to more than 450 species of birds including the Colima warbler and the Lucifer hummingbird.

The park is the home to the end range of a number of different animal species including those found on the east coast of the United States and the southern portions of Latin America. Many of the animals that inhabit the park are nocturnal. More than two dozen cougars live in Big Bend National Park, as well as Mexican Black Bears, Peccary, Coyotes, Roadrunners, and Jackrabbits. 

More than 1200 different plats species can be found in the park including more than 60 different types of cacti. The convergence of the Chihuahuan Desert, the Edwards plateau, Tamaulipan thronscrub, Sierra Madre, and the Rocky Mountains creates anenvironment that fosters the greatest diversity of cactus found in any of the national parks. 

Take a peek at the beautiful pictures of Big Bend National Park at:http://www.bingoforpatriots.com/american-treasures/americas-national-parks/big-bend/ Do you have any pictures of the park? Please pass them along to me, and I will add them to the page, so we can all share them. 

Please take a moment to think about the treasures that are a part of our national park system. One thing in my “bucket list” is to see each one in person! We are truly fortunate to have them be a part of What IS Right With America! 


Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.


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