For the past week the GPS was loaded with way points in Growler Valley off of Bates Wells Road about 9 miles south of Bates Wells so that is where we have been going to find buffelgrass. The normal routine is to head out a little after 8 A.M. to the resource building to pickup up our Garmin GPS and Trimble GPS loaded with way points, and then over towards the maintenance building to pickup up radios. The next stop is to the Visitor Center to sign out, but we have to plan or stop just right because the Visitor Center doesn't open until 8:30. We then hit the road. Growler Valley is only about 18 miles as the crow flies from the Visitor Center, but by car it is more than 50 miles. We have to drive all the way to Darby Wells Road a few miles south of Ajo, and then take Bates Wells Road until we hit the northern boarder of Organ Pipe NM.
The Bates Wells is an old ranch located just inside the north boarder Organ Pipe NM boarder and is going under restoration. We stopped and did a quick tour of the land. The park service is in the process restoring one of the buildings, but it will be a long time before it will be open to the public. Bates Wells Ranch was a working cattle ranch until the 1970s. The well provided enough water for the ranch and cattle.
The main ranch house is undergoing restoration. Part of the foundation had rotted and some of the framing was in deteriorating condition. Once repairs are completed, then restoration of the inside will continue.
One of the out buildings at the Bates Ranch Site.
We spent several days at the same site in Growler Valley digging up buffelgrass. The site was about 10 miles south of Bates Wells Ranch....in the middle of the desert not too far off the Bates Wells Road. I'm not sure when the site was last visited, but there were several "carcase piles" of buffelgrass.
The buffelgrass is surrounding the old pile of buffelgrass that was previously dug up.
This is a section that was cleared out.
Joel taking a picture of his hard work. Note the huge, new pile of dead bufflegrass, and this was not all of it.
I've had inquiries regarding our safety and rumors that the Monument is closed. Well, I feel safer out in the Organ Pipe desert than I do in the big city. Even though we are in the back country we have constant radio contact...we are required to check in every hour and if we don't, our monitor checks on us. There is a huge Border Patrol station just south of Ajo and there are over 500 boarder patrols assigned to the area. In fact, when we are out in the field I usually see at least one Border Patrol Vehicle per hour if not more.
There are areas of the park that are zoned "red zones" and not open to the public due to the Monuments proximately to the boarder, but, more than 50 percent of the park is open for use. Yes, undocumented aliens (UDA)are spotted, but usually they are in a stressed situation needing water or medical attention and not a threat, and they are picked up quickly. There are blue "amnesty" flags flying where stressed UDA can get water and request assistance.
So, if you are planning to head south towards Rocky Point, Mexico, make time to stop at Organ Pipe and visit. The campground is never full, and the Monument is open. I'm sure you will love Organ Pipe and will want to return.