Caught in the middle of the perennial conflict between the drug cartels of northern Sonora and U.S. Border Patrol, the cowboys of the Atascosas fight to preserve their way of life and profession. Fences are frequently cut, and water tanks are inadvertently drained by migrants and smugglers forced into the area by the militarization of nearby towns, while cattle gates are left open by Federal Agents speeding back and forth on their daily patrols. Inexorable environmental, economic, and social changes challenge the viability of ranches in increasingly degraded landscapes. As the hottest year ever recorded in Southern Arizona, 2020 far surpassed the drought years of the early 1890’s that led to the die off of at least half of the cattle on the range. It is only with the intensive infrastructure developments and technological advancements of today that ranchers here have staved off a similar disaster. But should a time come when there are no longer cattle or cowboys in the Atascosa Highlands, evidence of their impacts will forever remain on the face of this unique ecosystem.

I. Eragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann’s Lovegrass)
II. Eragrostis curvula (Weeping Lovegrass)
III. Pennisetum ciliare (Bufflegrass)