Size: 4,374 acres
Location: Socorro County
Conservation Values: Scenic Open Space, Wildlife Habitat, Cultural/Historical, Agricultural
Type of Project: Dept. of Defense’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) Program.
Date Completed: January 2020
Feature story: ‘He’s seen a lot of ranches evaporate in 84 years’
Situated in the Chupadera Arroyo valley in the Chihuahuan Desert ecoregion, the Luther Ranch has historically been utilized for livestock production and continues today as a working cattle ranch. The owner has some of the best regional grassland conditions on the deeded property as a result of appropriate grazing practices.
Known for a diversity of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, the Chihuahuan Desert is a continentally important wintering area for grassland birds – the most rapidly declining group of birds in North America. More than 90% of migratory grassland bird species breeding in western North America spend at least half their life cycle concentrated in the limited grasslands of the Chihuahuan Desert region, and 85% of grassland bird species breeding in the western Great Plains, over-winter in the Chihuahuan Desert. Mule deer, migrating elk and pronghorn antelope are known to frequent the property.
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.