Northern Jaguar Reserve

Plant Communities and the 2011 frost on the Northern Jaguar Preserve

Frost killed thornscrub speciesFebruary 2nd and 3rd 2011 laid a heavy hand on the NJP reserve. An arctic air mass descended on southwestern North America, stretching its influence south of its typical reach. Individual species had their numbers reduced drastically. The makeup and distribution of some plant communities were altered. Rules that had governed species survival for a minimum of several decades were put on hiatus during a more than 48-hour period of early Feb. 2011.

Woody species hit the hardest on the reserve include Acacia cochliacantha, Lysiloma divaricatum, Dodonaea viscosa, Bursera fagaroides, Bursera lancifolia, Ficus petiolaris, F. insipida, F. pertusa, Ceiba acuminata, Ipomoea arborescens, and Lysiloma watsonii, among others.

"La Ruta Bacanora"

Off the Wagon and On the Whiskey Trail in the Sonoran Hinterlands

by Michael Huckaby


Burros haul the piñas or cabezas from the monte.
Sahuaripa sits nestled against the foothills of the western flank of the Sierra Madre Occidental. It is at the north end of the valley of Tacupeto on the north flowing Rio Sahuaripa just before it enters the Rio Yaqui. This is cattle country. Some agriculture exist where farmers have taken advantage of the rivers leaving the sierras, but mostly it's cattle country. It's a tradition that goes back some 400 years, to when the Opata Indians were displaced by Spanish missionaries and miners. Cattle were introduced to feed the workers.

Vaqueros ride these hills in full length thick leather chaps to protect themselves in the thorn forest. Plants like vinorama, catclaw, and canyon hackberry vie for the opportunity to draw blood. The cattle get into some pretty difficult situations. To keep them safe is tough work with little pay, but it's a family tradition.

In the fall, there's a revival of another longstanding tradition. It starts when the first cool breezes signal the end of summer. The vaqueros sharpen their machetes and hatchets and harvest the fruits of the agave plants for the local moonshine called Bacanora. The production was legalized in 1992, but it's still made by small groups in remote locations using age-old, tried and true equipment. In fact the most modern contraptions at the vinata are the 55 gallon barrel and copper tubing.

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