The Mescalero Sandsheet Conservation Area of southeastern New Mexico encompasses approximately one million acres. Its conservation centerpiece is the Conservancy’s 18,500-acre Milnesand Prairie Preserve.
Grasslands are the least protected and most threatened habitat on Earth, with less than two percent of their total area under formal protection globally and only four percent in the United States. In New Mexico we are fortunate to have some of the largest remaining intact grasslands on the planet. Consequently, our grasslands are global priorities in the “Campaign for a Sustainable Planet”, regional priorities in the “Great Plains Initiative”, and a state chapter priority in our Mescalero Sandsheet Program.
The Mescalero Sandsheet is comprised of five priority conservation areas identified in the Southern Shortgrass Prairie Ecoregional Plan. All of the conservation areas identified are considered important habitat for the lesser prairie-chicken, sand-dune lizard, black-tailed prairie dog, burrowing owl, Cassin’s sparrow, ferruginous hawk, lark bunting, long-billed curlew, and scaled quail in addition to containing expansive shortgrass prairie and shinnery oak habitat.
In summer 2004, we purchased the 18,500-acre Creamer Ranch near Milnesand, New Mexico. Long recognized as the epicenter of the state’s lesser prairie chicken core population, the Creamer Ranch, which borders two New Mexico Department of Game and Fish lesser prairie chicken preserves, has more than 60 leks, or booming grounds, an extraordinary density of birds. As a landowner, the Conservancy partners with the local community to obtain financial support for conservation and collaborates with other local ranchers and landowners.
Every April, nature enthusiasts from around the country hear the annual calls of the lesser prairie chickens and flock to Milnesand, N.M., for opportunities to see the birds' colorful, sometimes comical, mating rituals on the prairie grasslands of southeastern New Mexico. Registration begins in January. Forms and event details can be found here.
The model described here is a GIS-based spatial model designed to assess the impact of future development on lesser prairie-chicken (LEPC) conservation in eastern New Mexico emulates the Oklahoma Lesser Prairie-Chicken Spatial Planning Tool, a product of a collaboration including the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Playa Lakes Joint Venture, the Oklahoma Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, the University of Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State University. This tool is intended for use in planning for future development, minimizing negative impacts of future development on current LEPC habitat, and in planning conservation and restoration efforts for LEPC in eastern New Mexico. The model aims to provide industry and wildlife professionals a tool that can help: 1) site development projects with LEPC conservation in mind, 2) identify areas of critical habitat for LEPC conservation, and 3) identify areas for potential habitat restoration and/or species reintroduction, including offsets for the impact of future development activities. It is important to note that this study does not address any potential concerns other than the LEPC.Download file (2 MB) Lesser Prairie Chicken and Range Management Presentation (January 2009)
PowerPoint presentation of Prairie-Chickens, Bugs, and Cows: Lessons from the TNC Milnesand Prairie Preserve.Download file (6MB) Lesser Prairie Chicken Monitoring Abstract (January 2009)
Prairie-Chickens, Bugs, and Cows: Lessons from the TNC Milnesand Prairie Preserve.Download file (<1 MB) Lesser Prairie Chicken Report 2008 (January 2009)
A summary report on the habitat for lesser prairie-chickens and other wildlife in sand-shinnery oak – grass communities on the Milnesand Prairie Preserve.Download file (<1 MB)