• Sierra del Carmen

    Big Bend

    National Park Texas

Disturbed Lands

Preparing the soil for seeding in 1952 on Tornillo Flat.

Mechanically seeding the Tornillo Flat area 1952.


Prior to the establishment of Big Bend in 1944, much of the land now considered a park was owned by small family ranches and farms. Once established as a national park, a great number of ranches had over-used the land.

Currently, the NPS is still keeping up with damage that was done to the land many years ago. Much like the projects of today the soil conservation service conducted a number of experimental restoration plots in the Tornillo Flat area begining in the 1950s. Today much of the heavily erroded soils are located in the north Rossillos and Tornillo sections of the national park.

Interested in helping out? The national park service is always looking for good volunteers to restore disturbed lands. Click here for more...

The impact of erosion
The impacts of erosion are obvious in some locations in Big Bend National Park.  Root systems of plants, like this mesquite, that were once 10 feet underground now stand 10 feet tall above the ground.
Dan Leavitt/NPS

Did You Know?

A vast desert landscape

In 1535, prior to settlement, the Spanish adventurer Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca is credited with being the first European to visit the Big Bend Country. The Spanish had a name for such an area - despoblado, or unpopulated land. More...