The Rio Puerco Preserve is located approximately 10 miles South of Cuba, NM. Marion Butte is visible in the background.
The river has deeply downcut because of erosion. There is not much rock in this valley alluvium and, with overgrazing, the plant life has not been able to hold together the soil. It is estimated that the Puerco is responsible for 50% of the silt flowing into the Rio Grande. Marion Butte in the background again.
In many places there is not enough vegetative seed source to provide ground cover.
Although there is some grass growing, and at least one large cottonwood remains.
So I decided to climb Marion butte for a better view. There was a storm brewing, however.
Under the dark clouds New Mexico's colors showed stronger.
There was something of a stairway leading up the Butte.
On top of the peak I found a thriving pack rat nest, layers of petrified wood, scarified pinyon, and an interesting insect living among the dry leaves of the mountain willow. Sunset looking west over Mesa Portales:
I walked back to camp under the gathering twilight, with one last look at Marion Butte, who watches with eternal vigilence over the Preserve.