Size: 1,760 acres
Location: Hidalgo County
Eco-Region: Apache Highlands
Conservation Values: Scenic Open Space, Wildlife Habitat
Type of Project: Purchased Conservation Easement
Date Completed: December, 2007
This 1,760 acre property is located in the heart of the Peloncillo Mountains of Hidalgo County, approximately ten miles southeast of Rodeo and 50 miles north of the Mexican border in the extreme southwest part of the state known as the “Bootheel.” The Bioresearch Ranch has been managed by the landowners since 1973 as an ecological research and monitoring site and facility. The property contains a variety of unique plant and animal communities, and is particularly noted for its avian fauna. There is even speculation that jaguar have occurred on the property. Jaguars have been photographed twice in the last ten years, most recently in March 2006 within 30 miles of the property. Several conservation organizations, including The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the World Wildlife Fund and the Malpai Borderlands Group, have a strong interest in seeing the Bioresearch Ranch permanently protected.
Ecologically, the property is predominantly characterized as being part of the Apache Highlands ecoregion, although it contains areas that are representative of the Chihuahuan Desert ecoregion. Among some 90 identified conservation areas within the 25 million acres of land encompassing the Apache Highlands ecoregion of southwestern New Mexico and northwest Mexico, the Peloncillo Mountains rank second in biodiversity. They also form a critical link in an important north-south wildlife corridor between the Gila Range to the north and the Sierra Madre Mountains to the south in Mexico.
A large area within the central Peloncillo Mountains, including the Bioresearch Ranch and surrounding public land, has been designated an Area of Critical Environmental Concern by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and a Research Natural Area by the U.S. Forest Service. The property is intermingled with state and federal (BLM) land, adjoins the Central Peloncillo Mountains Wilderness Study Area (BLM) to the north and the 350,000 acre Gray Ranch to the east (over 300,000 acres of which are under a conservation easement with TNC), and is located two miles north of the Coronado National Forest.
The Bioresearch Ranch contains three priority habitat types identified in the New Mexico Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy – Chihuahuan Desert, Madrean Oak Canyon Woodlands and Piedmont Grasslands – which support a variety of state and federal threatened, endangered and sensitive species. Notable mammals include Desert bighorn sheep, Coue’s whitetail deer, mountain lion, collared peccary, coatimundi, and Mexican long-tongued and southern long-nosed bats. Notable birds include northern beardless tyrannulet, Gould’s wild turkey, Peregrine falcon, yellow-eyed junco, varied bunting, whiskered screech owl and several species of hummingbirds. Notable reptiles include Desert tortoise and green rat snake. Over 450 species of vascular plants have been documented, which represents two thirds of the flora known in the Peloncillo Mountains.