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Explore Texas: Laughlin's nature trails

Airman 1st Class Robby Agustin, 47th Operation Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment assistant, Irish Domingo, his spouse, and their dog Momo explore the nature trails at Laughlin Air Force Base, April 23, 2018. The couple enjoys the trails as an alternate to visiting the gym, as well as an opportunity for family time. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Anne McCready)

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas—Laughlin’s unspoken gem, the on base nature trails, are green and full of flowers and wildlife, like an oasis in a land of heat and burrs. Truth be told, there are plenty of thorns and thistles near the nature trails; however, unlike the rest of the nearby wilderness there is a reliable path to follow and activities to enjoy.

The nature trails, intended to provide wildlife a habitat, are located in Laughlin’s backyard and are managed by the 47th Civil Engineer Squadron and are and is open for public enjoyment. 

These public trails consist of numerous, intersecting paths which lead to an archeological site, pond, bird observatory, picnic area and more.

Lt. Col. William Notbohm, 47th CES commander, referred to the nature trails as one of the great resources Laughlin members have access to.

“We have some rare [animals and plant life], and the earless lizard is known to inhabit Laughlin Air Force Base,” Notbohm said. “At night, it faces the Western sky so you can view nice sunsets out there. When I go out to the trail, I’m usually on a run. It’s a great way to get off the beaten path.”

Another feature the trail includes is a prehistoric archeological camp site. Danny Yandell, 47th CES environmental resources manager, emphasized no objects should be removed from the site.

The nature trails, including the wildlife observation and picnic area are open year-round with the exception of deer hunting season. During hunting season, signs will mark the trails as off-limits, which may range from October to January.

“For individual safety, the wildlife observation picnic site and nature trails are off-limits for the four months of White Tailed deer hunting season,” Yandell said. “However, if the season is closed by order of the wing commander, these areas will be available to the public.”

Yandell reminds people to follow outdoor precautions appropriate to West Texas while exploring the Laughlin trails.

“Be cautious of wildlife and insects that could be harmful if agitated such as snakes, raccoons, spiders, wasps and bees.” Yandell said. “Be mindful of other objects such as thorny bushes, trees, lose or sharp rocks, holes and culverts. One should take plenty of water to remain hydrated during summer and to dress appropriately in winter.”

Another topic Yandell addressed was the ever-present need of renovation. Opportunities for improvement are supported only through conservation funds and volunteers.

“There are many projects in the process.” Yandell said. “One project is to remove some unwanted invasive Salt Cedar trees in the wildlife observation area, which have a negative impact on the area. Volunteers are always welcome because there are a lot of improvements to be made, and maintenance is always a constant need since this area is not covered under the civil engineering contract.”

Notbohm said the trails are a great way to get outside away from the busier side of life and observe nature. He encourages personnel to enjoy the nature trails if it appeals to them.

For more information about the trail and volunteer opportunities, call Yandell at 830-298-5746, and for more information about deer hunting season, call Outdoor Recreation at 830-298-5830.