Imagine a vast desert grassland, volcanic mountains turning pink in the setting sun, leading to an unparalleled night sky view of the Milky Way. Imagine thousands of ancient petroglyphs recording the history of an ancient culture on rock. Imagine a landscape dotted with New Mexico’s healthiest herd of pronghorn antelope, a destination for over 200 migrating songbirds, and the largest untapped groundwater aquifer in the state.
America’s largest remaining grassland, Otero Mesa, nestled in far southeast New Mexico, is all these things and more. As Twyla Rayne, a youth Apache Indian from the Mescalero Reservation stated, “Otero Mesa is more than just a place to me. It’s a sanctuary, a place of peace, understanding, reliability; not only for me, but animals of all sorts.”
In 2001, the oil and gas industry targeted Otero Mesa for full-scale drilling, despite the ecological importance and fragility of this desert landscape. Thanks to an organized grassroots coalition, to date no new drilling has occurred. Otero Mesa, however, remains threatened by drilling and new proposed hardrock mining.
The Sierra Club is working to:
- Secure permanent protection for more than 1 million acres of Otero Mesa. Such protection would save America’s wildest grassland from drilling and mining, and conserve the area’s wildlife habitat, water, history, and sacred value.