Big Bend is ground zero for a thriving black market for native plants

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Retired Big Bend National Park biologist Raymond Skiles spent a lot of time hiking the desert and mountains in the 1,252-square-mile park during his tenure. One of his favorite routes followed a ridge near the Rio Grande, where ocotillo dot the rocky limestone and the high ground offers views of the river and Sierra del Carmen mountains. For years, he enjoyed spotting various cacti along the way, including living rock cacti, a small spineless plant that blends in with the rocks. But around 2006, something curious started happening.

“On a walk one evening, I noticed a small pit, maybe 6 inches deep and wide,” Skiles says. “Then another, and another. Then dozens over a few hundred yards. I realized I was no longer seeing any living rock plants. They were all gone. It

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Mookie Betts, Tom Brady thriving in their new homes, while Boston’s next championship is nowhere in sight | Matt Vautour

The grey sky and rain were appropriate for the mood in New England Wednesday morning.

In sunny Los Angeles, if they went to sleep at all, they woke up ready to continue celebrating the World Series championship that former Red Sox star Mookie Betts helped clinch Tuesday night. In the Sunshine State, they’re celebrating former Patriots legend Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, who are looking more and more like a Super Bowl team.

Around here fans are glum. For the first time in almost 20 years, not one of the Boston teams looks close to winning a championship while the GOATs are grazing happily in other pastures with New England in their rearview mirror.

Only Betts knows if his “I thought I’d be a Red Sox for life” line to David Ortiz was true or just a self-serving quip. But whether Boston was smart to get something for him before

Read More

Mookie Betts, Tom Brady thriving in their new homes, while Boston’s next championship is nowhere in sight

The grey sky and rain were appropriate for the mood in New England Wednesday morning.

In sunny Los Angeles, if they went to sleep at all, they woke up ready to continue celebrating the World Series championship that former Red Sox star Mookie Betts helped clinch Tuesday night. In the Sunshine State, they’re celebrating former Patriots legend Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, who are looking more and more like a Super Bowl team.

Around here fans are glum. For the first time in almost 20 years, not one of the Boston teams looks close to winning a championship while the GOATs are grazing happily in other pastures with New England in their rearview mirror.

Only Betts knows if his “I thought I’d be a Red Sox for life” line to David Ortiz was true or just a self-serving quip. But whether Boston was smart to get something for him before

Read More