Back by Noon: Threats to our Desert Grassland

This Saturday, November 9th, we hope you can join us on an all day trip to our last desert grassland, Otero Mesa.

This outing is free and open to the public. Registration is required and space is limited, please sign up in advance here.

Back by Noon atendees viewing petroglyphsOtero Mesa supports one of New Mexico’s only native herds of pronghorn, as well as prairie dogs, burrowing owls, kit foxes, mule deer, and numerous reptiles and amphibians. It is used by more than 200 bird species, including endangered Aplomado falcons. Otero Mesa has also been used by Native American tribes for centuries, and contains numerous petroglyphs and archaeological sites that we will get an opportunity to see up close!

By the 1960’s, drought and over-grazing had transformed most of the grassland into dry desert scrub, in a process called desertification. Otero Mesa survived desertification. A uniform layer of cement-like calcium carbonate, or calcrete, lying 2 feet beneath the surface of this grassland, just happens to allow for grass to take root but not larger shrubs.

But today, Otero Mesa is threatened. A renewed interest in oil and natural gas development stands to irreversibly damage this unique ecosystem, through seismic exploration, drilling, and road construction, even though the estimated energy returns would be minimal.

Deer running through Otero MesaWe are working to protect Otero Mesa from oil and gas. In doing so we can provide habitat for many species that are threatened, endangered or in decline, giving these animals a chance at survival.

The first steps you can take to protect it with us is learning about this indispensable habitat. Come explore the last desert grassland with us and learn how we can be part of its survival!