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Presidio County, Texas

Map by Joseph E. Forks
Text by Troy Hibbitts

click to enlarge


Presidio is the second largest county in Texas, encompassing 3,892 square miles. Virtually all of the localities where L. alterna occurr in Presidio County are geologically composed of Tertiary Volcanic rocks. Much of the Northeastern portion of Presidio is relatively flat grasslands, while numerous mountain ranges dot the southern and western portions, including the Sierra Vieja, the Chinati, and the Cuesta del Burro Mountains. The Rio Grande River also cuts numerous canyons along the southwest border of the county.


Because Presidio County is so large, the amount of rainfall that it receives varies greatly from one location to another. While the county is reported as receiving an average of 18.9" of rain, this figure primarily reflects the higher rainfall of the upland grassland habitats, for the lowland deserts along the Rio Grande receive less annual rainfall, with an average of only 10.5" per year at Presidio. Vegetation varies from upland grasslands around Marfa, to lowland deserts near the Rio Grande, to pinyon-juniper associations in the highlands of the Chinati Mountains. In rocky habitats, ocotillo, agave, lechugilla, sotol, creosote, mesquite, acacia, and numerous form of cacti predominate.


Presidio County is relatively sparsely populated, having only 6,787 inhabitants, mostly in the towns of Presidio and Marfa. Other towns include Candelaria, Redford, Ruidosa, and Shafter. Presidio County is pricipally involved in the cattle industry; historically, mining interests dominated, and abandoned mines can be seen throughout the county.


River Road, FM 170
Prime collecting localities range from 14 to 30 miles west of Lajitas and more L. alterna have been collected here than any other location outside of Val Verde and Terrell Counties. NOTE: currently this road runs through the Big Bend Ranch State Park. The Highway and right of way can be legally collected.


Lajitas, FM 170

Although the town of Lajitas is actually in Brewster County, most snakes said to be from Lajitas are collected from 0-8 miles west of Lajitas on FM 170 in Presidio County. The same WARNING applies for this area as does for the River Road, although there is a greater percentage of private landholdings in this area.



Shafter, US 67
From 0-6 miles North of Shafter, US Hwy 67 runs through some excellent habitat for L. alterna, and a small number of snakes have been collected here. However, the road is very wide and has a high traffic load, making collecting here difficult.



Pinto Canyon
From the end of the pavement of FM 2810 southwest of Marfa to Ruidosa, a dirt county road passes through the spectacular Pinto Canyon of the Chinati Mountains, and a very small number of alterna have been collected here. However, the local rancher is suspicious of cars stopping along the road and has been known to harrass strangers. Border Patrol and DEA officials also monitor this road very closely, making collecting here difficult.



North of the end of FM 170, a dirt county road passes through alterna habitat very similar to that found on the River Road, and a few alterna are rumored to have been collected here.

US Hwy 90, between Marfa and Alpine
Although most of the alterna habitat here is in Brewster County, there are several road cuts in Presidio County near the county line that could produce alterna (several have been caught on the Brewster county side). - main