Size: 12,700 acres
Location: Socorro, Torrance County
Eco-Region: Chihuahua Desert Grasslands
Conservation Values: Agriculture, Scenic Open Space, Wildlife Habitat, National Security
Type of Project: Purchased Conservation Easement (Dept. of Defense/REPI/ACUB funding, White Sands Missile Range)
Date Completed: December 2020
From the Salt Market to the Farm-to-Table Market: Gran Quivira Ranch
The Gran Quivira Ranch is nestled between a series of historic ruins known as the Salinas Pueblos. Though vacated now, around 1100 AD the people of the Salinas Valley are thought to have played an integral role in the valuable trade economies of New Mexico. Researchers believe that the Salinas Valley was a major trade center and one of the most populated areas within the Pueblo culture. Perhaps as many as 10,000 people or more resided in the area by the 1600s. They traded maize, pinon nuts, beans, squash, salt, and cotton goods for dried buffalo meat, hides, flints, and shells. Salt would eventually prove to be a one of the most valuable of their commodities as the Pueblo culture subsided and the Spanish culture phased in, hence the Mission Salt Trails. This is an interesting part of New Mexico’s rich history.
The Gran Quivira Ranch is owned by former New Mexico State Land Commissioner, Aubrey Dunn and his wife and ranching partner, Robin Dunn. The couple purchased the approximate 26,000-acre ranch in 2014. In the short time they have owned the ranch, the Dunns have engaged in several conservation efforts aimed at improving the quality and quantity of soil and grass on the ranch. The have also been relentless in expanding their farm/ranch-to-table marketing efforts. To that end, they have established numerous direct marketing outlets in which they sell beef and chicken products, from nice filet mignon cuts to farm fresh eggs.
We are pleased to have worked with Aubrey and Robin Dunn in placing a 12,700-acre conservation easement across the westerly portion of their ranch. The easement will buffer the Gran Quivira National Monument, the Cibola National Forest, and White Sands Missile Range. Maybe as important, our collective conservation efforts will ensure that the agricultural and natural resource trade economies amidst the Salinas Pueblos will remain intact and visitors will more readily envision the history of this valuable trade area.
The easement was purchased through the U.S. Army’s Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) Program aimed at preventing (or reducing) land uses that are incompatible with military training and testing operations conducted at White Sands Missile Range (WSMR). These funds are appropriated under the Dept. of Defense’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) Program, which simultaneously protects WSMR’s “buffer zone,” enables the landowner to continue agricultural production, and protects a large, unfragmented portion of important natural habitat for a diverse range of wildlife.