Conserving the natural resources of the Chihuahuan Desert Borderlands
through research, education, and outreach.

Quail Coalition Champions Innovative Montezuma Quail Research in West Texas

Montezuma quail, photo courtesy of Bobby Allcorn

Thanks to support from Quail Coalition in Texas, the Borderlands Research Institute (BRI) at Sul Ross State University will conduct the first-ever research to determine the population size of Montezuma quail in the Davis Mountains of West Texas. The research project will deploy innovative acoustic monitoring techniques, another first for BRI research efforts.

“Montezuma quail are a unique but elusive species here in West Texas, and we don’t know much about them,” said Dr. Ryan S. Luna, who is the Kelly R. Thompson Professor of Quail Research at BRI. “One of the basic research questions we need to answer is population size. We are very grateful to the Quail Coalition for funding this project and their ongoing support for quail research in West Texas.”

The $152,000 project will fund research stipends for graduate students and technicians, wildlife acoustic song meters, GPS attachments for programming acoustic devices, and related software and supplies to analyze data. Three Quail Coalition chapters have provided funding this year, including $67,000 from the Park Cities chapter, $50,000 from the Permian Basin chapter, and $35,000 from the Cross Timbers Chapter.

“Thanks to the 3,000 quail hunters that make up our membership, our chapters collectively raise more than $3 million annually at fundraising dinners, with an end goal of sustaining and restoring wild quail populations for future generations,” said Quail Coalition Executive Director Jay Stine. “Quail Coalition is proud to partner with BRI on meaningful and innovative research, and the fact that three of our chapters are collaborating on this Montezuma quail research project speaks volumes about the quality of BRI’s work.”


Big Game Research Report Now Available!

When it comes to big game, West Texas is the best of Texas!

Nowhere else can you find such a diversity of horns, antlers, and hooves. Pronghorn, desert bighorn sheep, and mule deer are iconic species that typify the diversity of habitats that occur across the Chihuahuan Desert Borderlands. They also serve as the proverbial canary in the coal mine.

BRI’s big game research program works side-by-side with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, conservation partners, and private landowners to address the unique issues each species faces, including active restoration and recovery, habitat enhancements, predator-prey dynamics, disease management, and issues surrounding burgeoning invasive species populations.


As with all our research programs, we strive to make a difference in advancing conservation solutions that have meaningful impacts.

We hope you enjoy our 2022 Big Game Research Report and we thank you for your unwavering support of our efforts.



Thanks to You, We’re Celebrating 15 Years!

Photo courtesy of Kaylee French

We’re marking a major milestone for the Borderlands Research Institute this fall, as it’s our 15th Anniversary! 

We have come so far in such a short amount of time. We are indebted to so many, including our advisory board, donors, landowners, and conservation partners, many of whom have stood by our side since our inception 15 years ago. 

Please help us celebrate 15 years of conservation research and consider making a year-end gift in support of the Borderlands Research Institute.

Thank you for helping us Conserve the Last Frontier of Texas!


Charitable Giving Honors Family Legacy

Wes and Victoria Bannister were avid West Texas naturalists. On walks around the Big Bend, they loved to identify the native plants and gave many impromptu botany lessons, as their son Michael Bannister fondly recalls.

The couple fell in love with the Big Bend area on frequent visits passing through West Texas and decided to spend their retirement years living in Alpine. Sul Ross State University, along with its many continuing education opportunities, was part of the attraction.

“They were impressed with the University and knew many professors,” noted Michael.

Thoughtful conservation of the Big Bend region was important to them. They paid attention to groups that worked towards this goal. That’s why the Bannister family created the Wes and Victoria Bannister Operating Endowment Fund along with the Wes and Victoria Bannister Scholarship Fund at the Borderlands Research Institute in their honor. 

Each year, these funds support scholarships for two graduate students studying in the field of wildlife conservation along with critical general operations. These generous donations enable the Borderlands Research Institute to continue its mission to conserve the natural resources of the Chihuahuan Desert that the Bannisters so loved and admired.

Big Bend Artists for Conservation

Artist Spotlight: Tim McKenna

“Part of the allure of photography for me is that the learning and the always 'fleeting' goal of perfecting the craft of making a photographic image remains, even after all of my 64 years of experience with cameras. As long as I can hold a camera I will never stop learning.... In this image, the giant leap of modern technology gave me the edge I needed to capture this dramatic moment in crisp, split-second time."

--Cooper’s Hawk and Dove, by Tim McKenna

Tim McKenna and his wife Julie live in the middle of nowhere in the wilds of Big Bend about 17 miles from Terlingua, Texas. Their home is an off-the-grid set-up that he built himself out of shipping containers, powered with solar, complete with water catchment devices.

He is an accomplished photographer, and he shares breathtaking images from his corner of the world on his Instagram and Facebook pages. His work is displayed in galleries in Terlingua and Alpine and his images from Big Bend have been viewed in the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin and around the world. Recently he donated use of several of his works for display at the newly renovated high school in Alpine, Texas.

The majority of the images he captures and shares are taken right out his front door.

“I started posting what I thought was a nice photo every day to make everybody’s world a little better,” said Tim. “That led to more followers on both Facebook and Instagram, and people started to take notice.”

He donates work to the National Park Service and local charities, and is especially proud of the work he did with Big Bend Ranch State Park that led to its designation as an International Dark Sky Park.

The Borderlands Research Institute is pleased to feature the work of artists like Tim McKenna who are inspired by the landscapes, night skies, and the wildlife of West Texas. BRI’s Big Bend Artists for Conservation initiative aims to inspire conservation through art, and McKenna is the latest artist to be featured.

“I’m on board with anything that helps conserve this beautiful part of Texas,” said Tim. “This area is so unique and fragile, and we’ve really tried to minimize our footprint out here. Anything that we can do to conserve what we love is something that I would always aspire to and want to support.”


New Video Series Highlights BRI’s History

We’re celebrating 15 years of BRI’s conservation mission, and to mark the occasion, we’re launching a series of short videos commemorating our history. Our second installment features Research Scientist Dr. Justin French, who leads our Big Game research program.


BRI on the Radio!

KRLD Radio in Dallas recently interviewed BRI Director Dr. Louis Harveson about BRI’s work to conserve the last frontier of Texas.


Marfa Public Radio also recently interviewed Dr. Harveson and other BRI researchers on their Nature Notes program.


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Borderlands Research Institute | 432.837.8225 | [email protected]

P.O. Box C-21, SRSU, Alpine, Texas 79832


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