Friends no more! On Thursday, the Friends of Big Bend National Park announced a name change. The support group for the national park will now be called Big Bend Conservancy.
This is the fundraising group for Big Bend National Park and the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River. Courtney Lyons-Garcia is the Executive Director. “We started as small group. All vounteers, no staff. Being a friends group was a great way to start.”
Friends seems perhaps too casual, but Conservancy means business.
“We have grown a lot since then,” she says. “We have professional staff now. We have one-and-a-half staff. We have just grown. We have myself and a membership coordinator, Arlene Griffis, who lives in Marathon. We have an unrestricted annual budget of about $120,000, but we just wrapped up over a million dollars for the fossil exhibit.”
And that million-dollar project looks back at the legacy of dinosaurs that once roamed this land north of the Rio Grande. “Dinosaurs died out and mammals rose,” explains Lyons-Garcia. “You can actually see it in the rocks. It’s one of the few places on public land that you can do that, in the world.”
“Big Bend has the Quetzalcoatlus, which is the largest flying creature ever, on the plant. Then there is the Alamosaurus, which is one of the largest super-creatures that ever roamed the planet, as well. So there are some really awesome, spectacular fossils that we will be interpreting there.”
And what will this exhibit look like?
“This is actually a new type of exhibit for the park service,” she says. “It is an open-air pavilion with full-color, beautiful, interpretative panels. There will be The Boneyard, a place for children to play.:
Next year the group celebrates its 20th anniversary.