Nature’s Notebook

Connecting People with Nature to Benefit Our Changing Planet

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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 deltoids 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

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 new Rio Grande Phenology Trail Coordinator

Liz Douglass-Gallagher, RGPT Coordinator

Liz Douglass-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

  • Summer 2017: Lessons from Estimating Intensity and Abundance workshop
  • Spring 2017: Cottonwood results from the Trail
  • Winter 2017: 2016 year in review, and new Trail Coordinator 
  • July 2016: Valle de Oro Monitoring Protocol now available
  • May 2016: Sevilleta NWR joins the Trail
  • March 2016: Whitfield WCA highlight and spring phenology resources
  • January 2016: BEMP highlight and new RGPT Facebook page
  • November 2015: Welcome, highlight of ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden

Species Monitored on the Trail

Santa Fe Botanical Garden:

Oneseed Juniper



Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve:


Fourwing Saltbush

Golden Currant

Oneseed Juniper

Rio Grande Cottonwood

Tree Cholla

ABQ Botanical Garden:

Fourwing Saltbush

Golden Currant

Eastern Cottonwood

Siberian Elm

Rubber Rabbitbrush

Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge:

American crow  

American kestrel

American robin

Barn Swallow


Canada goose

Cliff Swallow

Cooper's hawk

Curve-billed Thrasher

Great Blue heron

Sandhill Crane

Say's Phoebe

Swainson's hawk

Western Bluebird


Gunnison’s Prairie Dog

Eastern Cottonwood

Siberian Elm

Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area:

Eastern Cottonwood

Berlandier’s Wolfberry

Siberian Elm


North American Porcupine

Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge:

Eastern Cottonwood

Honey Mesquite

Fourwing Saltbush

Western Whiptail



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