Size: 5453 acres
Location: Mora County
Eco-Region: Central Shortgrass Prairie
Conservation Values: Agriculture, Scenic Open Space, Wildlife Habitat
Type of Project: Donated Conservation Easement
Date Completed: December, 2014
The richness of the shortgrass prairie arises not solely from the diverse flora, but also from the thousands of seasonal wetlands and playas which freckle the landscape, playing host to thousands of migrating waterfowl and water birds who depend entirely on these unassuming waterbodies as they navigate an otherwise arid expanse.
Nowhere better is this on display than on the 5,400-acre Phoenix Ranch, a working cattle ranch located in the Rio Mora Valley near Watrous, NM. The property falls within the Rio Mora Conservation area, a federally designated region encompassing 962,000 acres in the Rio Mora Watershed. It includes the new Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge, a 4,600 acre refuge along the Mora River that is directly adjacent to the Phoenix Ranch West.
On NMLC’s regular monitoring visits to the ranch, it is not uncommon to flush a pair of breeding American avocets or watch a long-billed curlew probe for insects while his mate incubates the young-of-the-year. Piping plovers, killdeer, greater yellowlegs, and if one is lucky, a Mountain Plover, can be seen on the ranch all or part of the year, not to mention the hoards of wintering waterfowl during wet years.
The New Mexico Land Conservancy is excited to include the Phoenix Ranch West in our growing inventory of conservation easement properties in northeastern New Mexico, which includes the Fort Union Ranch, Wagon Mound Ranch, CS Ranch and Taylor Springs Ranch which collectively now conserve nearly 50,000 acres in this significant grassland area.