Size: 5,160 acres
Location: Grant County
Eco-Region: Chihuahua Desert
Conservation Values: Agriculture, Scenic Open Space, Wildlife Habitat
Type of Project: Transferred Conservation Easement
Date Completed: September, 2009
The Pitchfork Ranch lies at 5100 feet elevation, just west of the Continental Divide in southwest New Mexico. Although mountainous, the land is primarily rolling Chihuahuan grassland. It contains Soldiers Farewell Hill, located on the southern portion of the ranch near the historic Butterfield Overland Mail and Stage station called Soldiers Farewell Springs. The ranch has been in continuous cattle production for over a century.
The Burro Cienaga is a substantial riparian zone and the ranch’s major feature. Defined as “slow moving water, marsh or swamp” in Spanish, the “cienaga” is perennial and bisects the ranch from north to south. This corridor is habitat for many plant and animal species, including Goodings Willow, Freemont Cottonwood, Emory Oak, over 40 identified grasses, several cactus, deer, peccary, coatimundi, golden eagle, great horned owl, and many more.
The current landowners have invested much time and resources in restoring the cienaga and associated riparian area to a healthy aquatic system while maintaining agricultural activities on the ranch.
This easement was transferred to NMLC from the Southern Rockies Agricultural Land Trust (SRALT) in 2011.
SRALT was established by Sid and Cheryl Goodloe of the Carrizo Valley Ranch in 1999. Over more than a decade the Goodloes worked to preserve farm and ranchland in New Mexico, helping to place over 13,000 acres under easement. In 2011, the Goodloes and SRALT’s Board of Directors decided to insure the future of the SRALT easements by transferring them to NMLC. NMLC is honored to carry on SRALT’s work to “uphold the concept of private ownership and management resulting in sustainability of family operated ranches and farms.”