Earlier this week I started an internship that will help me familiarize a place that, for me, has a storied past. To get everyone up to speed, let me start with a short introduction of myself. My name is Marvin Salvador Lopez Jr. I am a first generation Salvadorian-American and the second born and only son of two Salvadorian immigrants that came to America in 1989 to leave their war-torn home and start a family in Merced, California, near Yosemite National Park. This echoes the many stories of immigrants coming to America for a better life for their children. They would soon move to Texas, where we still reside today. Many years later, while attending the University of Houston earlier this year, I had the pleasure of going on a field trip to Big Bend National Park. This was my first visit to the park and, while there, my classmates and I mapped out a small area in Dagger Flats near the entrance to the park. Even though I did not spend a lot of time in the park, the natural splendor had gripped me to my core.

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Geology is a way we can look into the past and understand how things used to be. Inside each rock formation is a story to tell about past lives spent on this planet. I wanted to take the time to report about the history of Big Bend as told by the rocks and geology of the park, and the many creatures that have inhabited the park long ago.

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Big Bend is special because of the amount of natural history recorded in the park. The geologic formations tell us about the past environments of the park, the bones and fossilized wood tell us the different types of life that lived here, and the current resources tell us where the park will go in the future. In all this wonder, it is easy for someone to want to take a piece of this history home for themselves. People think, “It’s just a piece of rock, right? Nobody is going to miss it,” or “Cool! A fossil I can show all my friends!” However, this becomes a serious issue in national parks and for scientists worldwide.

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Monday, 25 June 2018 17:42

A Visitor's Guide to Big Bend: Part 1

While working here in Big Bend National Park, trying to establish the paleontology sites monitoring program, I haven’t really had a good chance to visit some of the iconic views and places that the park is known for, that is until this week. I finally got a chance to visit a lot of the great places that makes Big Bend special, and I wanted to compile them all together into a comprehensive guide for people visiting the park, with a bit of commentary that I gathered from visiting and talking with some of the staff here.

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Tuesday, 03 July 2018 17:40

Brothers and Sisters in Conservation

Big Bend National Park sits right at the border of the United States and Mexico, and along the border sits two of Big Bend’s Sister Parks for Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas (CONANP), Maderas del Carmen and Santa Elena Cañón Flora and Fauna Reserves. Since these three parks share the same ecosystems, habitats, and the same issues at times too, it’s only sensible that our two nations work together to try and come up with ways to combat these problems as a unified front. So, every once in a while, a meeting between the three parks will occur to discuss what is going on in the parks, some future endeavors, and what are some projects we can do together to better preserve the natural area of the Rio Grande (or Rio Bravo in Mexico). I was fortunate enough to attend this meeting with my fellow LHIP intern, Iván Langesfield, Resource Manager Dave Larson, and other employees at Big Bend and staff from the CONANP parks.

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A lot is still being uncovered about dinosaurs and how they used to live and what they looked like. Some of this discovery is being made at Big Bend National Park. In an paper published in 2013, Dr. Nick Longrich introduced a new genus of Caenagnathidae, a type of a toothless, bird-like dinosaur about the size of a dog that lived some 75 million years ago.  This new genus, Leptorhynchus, (meaning small-beak) was found outside of the park in Terlingua, along with another similar Caenanathidae found within the park. The fragments found include its distinctive beak as well as a femur.

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Tuesday, 17 July 2018 17:34

A Visitor's Guide to Big Bend: Part 2

As I am winding down my time here out in the Big Bend, I have been exposed to more sights and locations that I would recommend to visitors to fully understand the grandeur of the park. Some of these places I haven’t yet visited but are on my list for where to visit later on hopefully within the next couple weeks of my internship, however I wanted to write it up for friends and family who are planning to visit.

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This week I wanted to give insight into a normal day for me are here in Big Bend National Park. These images are collected from a couple of days, but I wanted to gather them all together and give some of idea of what I do while working here.

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Thursday, 29 November 2018 14:58

Marvin López

I am a first generation Salvadoran-American, and the second born and only son of two Salvadoran immigrants that came to America in 1989 to leave their war-torn home and start a family in Merced, California, near Yosemite National Park. This echoes the many stories of immigrants coming to America for a better life for their children. They would soon move to Texas, where we still reside today. Many years later, while attending the University of Houston earlier this year, I had the pleasure to go on a field trip to Big Bend National Park. Even though I did not spend a lot of time in the park, the natural splendor had gripped me to my core. During my time here, I followed in the footsteps of George Melendez Wright [another Salvadoran-American who did early surveys in Big Bend and other national parks], however in the field of paleontology and geology.

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Thursday, 29 November 2018 12:54

Iván Langesfeld

I was born and raised in the city of Miami, Florida, and was lucky to have a family that encouraged my tree climbing endeavors and went camping in the Everglades for my birthdays. Until now, I’ve been really excited about the scientific branch of biology and conservation. However, after an applied semester in Chilean Patagonia where I got to work closely with communities in ways that would benefit both conservation aims and the communities surrounding these areas in need of stewardship, I noticed I really enjoy human narratives. The new direction I’d like to orient myself toward is as a story-teller: untangling and reweaving narratives of human-nature and human-human conflict, so that issues can be addressed and rewoven into a new, healed whole.

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