Size: 867.5 acres
Location: Torrance County
Eco-Region: Southern Shortgrass Prairie
Conservation Values: Agriculture, Scenic Open Space, Wildlife Habitat
Type of Project: Donated Conservation Easement
Date Completed: February, 2011
Mesteno Draw Ranch is located approximately five miles north of Mountainair near the Village of Punta de Agua and Manzanos Mountains State Park. The ranch primarily consists of open grasslands with some scattered pinon pine, juniper and oak. Mesteno Draw runs through the ranch and is an intermittent stream that flows primarily during spring runoff and monsoon season. The land was once farmed in pinto beans and there are multiple homestead sites on the ranch including an old house, barn and corral area that the landowner still uses for her small livestock operation.
Mesteno Draw Ranch is a prime example of a small-scale, grass-fed cattle operation that employs sustainable grazing practices on a relatively small amount of land. The landowner, Joan Bybee, has made a concerted effort to restore and enhance the Mesteno Draw riparian corridor. She has primarily worked with the Quivira Coalition, the Claunch-Pinto Soil and Water Conservation District and the Natural Resources Conservation Service to install small and large rock dams all along the draw to help slow the flow of water and prevent further channelization and erosion by building up sediment. She has also conducted juniper/brush removal activities on a large portion of the ranch to keep the grasslands open and productive.
When asked why she decided to complete an easement over her ranch, Joan stated that she is “concerned about the future of the world’s wildlife and agricultural land with the current trend of dividing land up into residential areas. Grasslands that are kept healthy play an important role in drawing carbon from the atmosphere and in maintaining healthy mineral and water cycles”. She also stated that she “hope[s] that future generations will be able to enjoy the natural environment both at the scenic landscape level and at the finer-grained level of the individual plants and animals that are supported by the land.”