Size: 2,615 acres
Location: Socorro County
Eco-Region: Albuquerque Basin Level IV
Conservation Values: Scenic Open Space, Wildlife Habitat, Cultural/Historical, Agricultural
Type of Project: Donated Conservation Easement
Date Completed: June 2019
An Oasis in the Desert Southwest
Perennial water sources in the southern part of the state are few and far between, so when the owners of the La Jencia Creek Ranch contacted NMLC about a possible conservation easement, NMLC jumped at the opportunity, and in June 2019, completed a conservation easement across 2,615 acres of the property.
The ranch is located in Socorro County, west of the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge. La Jencia Creek bisects the property, meandering through the mixed piñon and juniper grasslands, and offers extremely rare and precious freshwater and lush riparian vegetation habitat in an otherwise arid environment.
Where there’s water, there’s wildlife, and the ranch caretaker of many years reports that even elk have returned to the ranch and bighorn sheep migrate through between Ladrones Peak and the Polvadera Mountains. Wildlife species thrive and birds a plenty flock to the ranch to capitalize on the diversity of riparian, wetland and upland habitats.
The La Jencia Creek corridor had been severely incised due to human and livestock impacts over the past 150 years. Upon purchasing the ranch in 2006, the current landowners immediately got to work restoring the creek’s floodplain and riparian corridor. They have planted numerous cottonwoods along the creek while simultaneously eradicating invasive vegetation such as Russian olive trees and salt cedar.
Protecting their investment in the creek’s restoration was a primary consideration in the landowners’ decision to move forward with a conservation easement. The important resources on the ranch, now permanently conserved, contribute to the larger expanse of relatively unfragmented lands in the vicinity that include New Mexico State Trust lands, federal lands managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management such as the Sierra Ladrones Wilderness Study Area, Bear Mountains of the Cibola National Forest and the adjacent Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge. #