Thursday, June 16, 2011

Barfoot Now a National Natural Landmark

Barfoot Park, long loved by birders, herpetologists, boy scouts, and hikers in the Chiricahua Mountains, has been designated a National Natural Landmark in a directive signed yesterday by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. It joins 590 other locations which have received this honor since the program was established in 1962. The program singles out the best examples of our country's biological and geological features, whether in public or private ownership.

Former view from Barfoot ridge, not far from the Short-tailed Hawk nest
(Photos by Narca)

How bittersweet! Anyone following news of the Horseshoe Two Fire will know that Barfoot was incinerated a couple of weeks ago, in a high-intensity blowout. However, Bill Edwards (District Ranger for the Coronado National Forest) believes that the elements that made it a site of national importance are still present, and that Barfoot will recover, given time. Indeed all of us hope that.

From the press release: "Barfoot Park in the Chiricahua Mountains of southern Arizona supports an unusual mix of Sierra Madre and Rocky Mountain flora and fauna that includes four pine species and 18 other tree species. It also includes more than 15 acres of talus slopes, along with three meadows and two permanent springs. The landmark encompasses 680 acres of federal land managed by the U.S. Forest Service."

The talus slopes are the U.S. epicenter for a very rare rattlesnake, the Twin-spotted. Forested slopes are home to a rare butterfly, the Pine Satyr, which barely enters the US from Mexico. Did they survive, I wonder? Will Pine Satyrs have to recolonize from Mexico, once habitat is again suitable? Some day will Short-tailed Hawks again nest on the high ridges?

Pine Satyr above Barfoot Park, July 2010

Silene laciniata, or Mexican Pink, in the high Chiricahuas
Young Short-tailed Hawk sketched at nest above Barfoot Park
(Ballpoint pen by Narca)

Six places in all were added to the roster of National Landmarks. In addition to Barfoot, they are Golden Fossil Areas near Golden, Colorado; Hanging Lake near Glenwood Springs, Colorado; Kahlotus Ridgetop near Kahlotus, Washington; Round Top Butte near Medford, Oregon; and The Island at the confluence of the Deschutes and Crooked Rivers in eastern Oregon.


  1. Yes, bittersweet. What a heavenly place. I will hold close to my heart my sightings last year: Mexican Chickadee, Red-faced Warbler, Olive Warbler, Short-tailed Hawk soaring high near the cliffs, the beautiful variety of mushrooms, the beautiful meadow, Twin-spotted Rattlesnake.........and the peace I felt in my soul when there.