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The Rio Grande Phenology Trail connects like-minded organizations through a shared community project. It encourages people to engage in active, outdoor education, and ask and answer local science, management and climate questions.

Rio Grande Phenology Trail

This effort was spearheaded by the USA National Phenology Network’s pilot project with the US Fish & Wildlife Service’s Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge. The organizations below are currently conducting weekly phenology monitoring on a suite of focal species, including the Rio Grande cottonwood (Populus deltoides wizlensii) and Siberian elm (Ulmus pumila).

Monitoring of plants and animals is conducted using Nature’s Notebook, a project of the USA-NPN. Weekly monitoring will result in scientific data that will provide information on phenological changes both on and off the National Wildlife Refuge System. This information will assist managers to better understand how this region is being impacted by a changing climate, and make management decisions at the Refuge in relation to ecological restoration goals, as well as summarize and present this information back to local communities and schools.

Partner organizations include:

1. Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge    

2. ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden 

3. Santa Fe Botanical Garden

4. Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area

5. Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge (slides)

6. Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program

7. Randall Davey Audubon Center and Sanctuary

8. Nex Gen Academy

These organizations are tracking the phenology of a variety of plants, birds, and mammals

Help us expand the Rio Grande Phenology Trail!

We are looking for like-minded organizations to use phenology as a science and outreach tool in existing programs.  If your group:

  1. Provides outdoor education opportunities, teaches about ecology, science and climate literacy, and encourages spending time in nature
  2. Is a school or program looking to connect with a long-term scientific research project
  3. Has a site that is staffed by volunteers or paid staff members interested in leading programs related to phenology, one of whom can be a "local phenology leader"
  4. Can commit to facilitating repeated phenology observation through time for our national phenology database 

then we invite you to join us!  Contact for more details on how to participate and partner your organization.

Overview of Rio Grande Phenology Trail handout

Meet our Rio Grande Phenology Trail Coordinator

Liz Douglass-Gallagher, RGPT Coordinator

Liz Gallagher was hired as Rio Grande Phenology Trail Educator in August 2017. Liz grew up in New Mexico and has a deep love for the communities (both human and non-human!) of this place. She received her BS in Biology from New Mexico Tech, and more recently completed an MA in Sustainable Communities from Northern Arizona University. From following whiptail lizards at Sevilleta NWR to interviewing Arizona farmers about climate change, her past work experiences have inspired her to share the wonderful and vital connections between natural and social science with others.   

After her time away, Liz is excited to be back in Albuquerque and to be working with the Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program as an Educator/Biologist. In particular, she hopes both to support and to learn alongside students, volunteers, and many other community members through BEMP, Valle de Oro NWR, and the RGPT! She will be coordinating with Trail Local Phenology Leaders on trainings, data sharing, and outreach to the public, and she is looking forward to helping the Trail grow.

Questions about the Trail, or about how to become a Trail partner? Contact Liz at


Help us collect observations on the Rio Grande Phenology Trail! 

Follow these three easy steps to join us:

1. Register for a Nature’s Notebook account.

2. Fill in your personal account details. 

3. At the bottom of the page find the PARTNER GROUPS drop down box:

  • Scroll to find the group you are interested in from the list above, and check the box next to it
  • Click SAVE at the bottom of the page
  • This will add all of the selected sites and species from the group to your Observation Deck

Note that on your Observation Deck under Sites you will now be able to switch back and forth in between My Sites and Rio Grande Phenology Trail Sites for the group you selected

Partner-developed Resources 

RGPT Newsletter Archive

Species Monitored on the Trail

Santa Fe Botanical Garden:

oneseed juniper twoneedle pinion tree cholla
bigtooth maple eastern (Rio Grande) cottonwood  stretchberry/New Mexico olive
  gambel oak  


Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve:

rubber rabbitbrush/chamisa fourwing saltbush golden currant
oneseed juniper eastern (Rio Grande) cottonwood tree cholla
wax current   stretchberry/New Mexico olive

Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program:

eastern (Rio Grande) cottonwood fourwing saltbush alkali sacaton
  broom snakeweed  


ABQ Botanical Garden:

fourwing saltbush golden currant eastern (Rio Grande) cottonwood
rubber rabbitbrush/chamisa  stretchberry/New Mexico olive Siberian elm
tree cholla screwbean mesquite broadleaf milkweed


Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge:

American crow American Kestrel American Robin
Barn Swallow Bobolink Canada Goose
Cliff Swallow Cooper's hawk Curve-billed Thrasher
Great Blue Heron Sandhill Crane Say's Phoebe
Swainson's Hawk Western Bluebird coyote
Gunnison’s prairie dog eastern (Rio Grande) cottonwood Siberian elm


Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area:

eastern (Rio Grande) cottonwood Berlandier’s wolfberry Siberian elm
coyote sandhill crane North American porcupine


Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge:

eastern (Rio Grande) cottonwood honey mesquite fourwing saltbush
New Mexico whiptail western whiptail  

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