Centennial Museum gecko logo

Desert Diary


This page was designed with CSS, and looks best in a CSS-aware browser—which, unfortunately, yours is not. However, the document should still be readable, though not presented in the most sophisticated manner.

Sociologists have long deplored the homogenization of our towns and cities as commercial institutions spread their tentacles. You can pretty much expect to find a McDonalds almost anywhere you go, each one looking very much like the other. By the time you add dozens of other national chains, much of the uniqueness and charm of individual places are lost.

It's not only the direct hand of man, though. Thanks to the introduction of numerous plants and animals from elsewhere, even nature is getting into the act. In the Southwest, familiar plants pop up everywhere, so every lawn has its dandelions; every roadside and unplowed field, its tumbleweeds; every streamside setting, its salt cedar. Animal wise, domestic creatures are commonplace throughout the region, and less obviously, so are the Old World rats and mice.

Much as we deplore the degradation of the landscape produced by our actions, perhaps we should remain thankful that it's still there. The way things are going, spotting a mountain, arroyo, or valley may be the only hope we have of telling where we are.
pen and ink


Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.