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MISSION: In recognition of the life-long work of Charles W. Painter (1949-2015), the Chiricahua Desert Museum (CDM) has established the Charles W. Painter Grant in Herpetology to support research and education on the herpetofauna of New Mexico. Charlie was a well-known, respected and beloved expert on the reptiles and amphibians of the southwestern United States.


Professionally, Charlie is perhaps best remembered for serving as the first State Herpetologist for New Mexico, where he worked for over 25 years. In that capacity, he established numerous conservation partnerships with local, state and federal agencies, universities, tribes and private landowners, and developed conservation plans for the Jemez Mountain Salamander, Sacramento Mountain Salamander, Chiricahua Leopard Frog, Dunes Sagebrush Lizard, New Mexico Ridge-nosed Rattlesnake, and Boreal Toad, among others. He developed a strong relationship with the Museum of Southwestern Biology at the University of New Mexico, and in the process, helped build one of the premiere herpetological research collections in the United States.


Charlie served on numerous thesis and dissertation committees, authored over 80 peer reviewed articles, served as editor for Herpetological Review, authored the 1996 book Amphibians and Reptiles of New Mexico, and received the 2013 Alison Haskell Award from the Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation for his passion, work and tireless dedication to the conservation of amphibians and reptiles. Charlie was also known for being an exceptional friend to many, a legendary camp chef, a strong supporter of the Chiricahua Desert Museum and its mission, and a talented artist* 


Grant applications are invited from relevant individuals, and will be reviewed and considered for support by the Scientific Advisory Board of the CDM. Areas that we are particularly keen to support are:


  • Natural History Proposals. Proposals in this category should address new field research in areas such as population distribution, behavioral ecology, and life history of amphibians and reptiles occurring in New Mexico.


  • Conservation Biology Proposals.Proposals in this category should address new research on endangered or threatened New Mexico amphibian or reptile species or the phenomena that affect the maintenance, decline, and restoration of their natural habitat.


  • Education Proposals. Proposals in this category should address starting and/or maintaining an educational program pertaining to New Mexico amphibians or reptiles at a facility available to the public, such as a zoological park, school, or community center.


Maximum annual grant request should not exceed $1000.00 US. Smaller value awards may be given to multiple projects annually. The total number of grants awarded per year will depend solely upon the balance of the dedicated grant fund in any given year.



*The eighteen foot rattlesnake tail sculpture "Tell's Tail" that adorns the front of the main garden at the Chiricahua Desert Museum was built by Charlie and his beautiful wife Lori with the help of Tell Hicks, Mike Hill, and Bob Curtis.

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