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. (photo ©Alan Eckert Photography)
Grasslands - A Global, Regional & Local Priority
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.
Milnesand Prairie Preserve
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.