New Masthead

When you approach Santa Fe, New Mexico from Interstate 25 there is a panoramic view between the mountains. A glow catches your eye - vibrant grasslands meeting the mountains. Unfortunately, if you look closer you will see the landscape is not pristine. A few hundred years of damage make us grateful for a truly protected space committed to restoration. 

The Galisteo Basin Preserve, owned by Commonweal Conservancy, lies within this ecotone and embodies the needs of the region to restore important ecological features while supporting community health. As a restoration partner, Great Plains Restoration Council is finishing up work on the "East Preserve" site, the first Primary Habitat Region on Galisteo Basin Preserve.

Leroy adding compost and seed
This includes a successfully introduced colony of Gunnison's prairie dogs that would have otherwise perished. (Gunnison's, like black-tailed prairie dogs, meet Endangered Species Act criteria but are afforded no legal protections so saving them relies on private efforts like this.) These animals were rescued from slivers of urban habitat in Santa Fe and carefully relocated to new homes on the Preserve.

In keeping with GPRC's Restoration Not Incarceration™ approach, one of our local workers is recovering from addiction and has turned to divinity and nature to assist his recovery since being released from jail in January of 2013. Leroy Swartz has worked diligently on site restoration after the prairie dog reintroductions were completed on the East Preserve, and will be a local crew leader for upcoming final dates in this first Primary Habitat Region.

Over late 2013-early 2014, we are improving the grasslands of the first Primary Habitat Region by:
  • Erosion terrace on Road 2
    Installing erosion control terraces to repair access roads and eroded plains areas
  • Planting of native seed and sod
  • Raking in compost to add organic matter
  • Filling key areas with native grass hay for mulch
  • Cutting juniper to improve site conditions and eliminate sight barriers for newly introduced prairie dogs and other grassland wildlife.

We will continue to monitor and improve the site, with plans for increasing biodiversity by establishing native forbs and other prairie flora, as well as provide erosion structures on the banks of the nearby arroyo / riparian areas.

We worked with People for Native Ecosystems through a grant from the PNM Foundation awarded to Commonweal Conservancy on the habitat restoration closure goals.

Closing Entrance Road 
Non-profits have taken the lead in trending the new collaboration economy. In the new economy of less resources and greater need, strategic working partnerships marry important specialized skills to deliver progress on expansive visions.

Wounded landscapes hearken a quote from Aldo Leopold: "One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds."

Wounds and deep traumas can be healed by working with the land, thereby creating a visible impact for both people and nature. By healing ourselves we are empowered to help others through an emerging conservation culture of Ecological Health. In turn, greater vitality is produced for all.

After this first successful Gunnison's prairie dog introduction and prairie restoration project on the East Preserve of Galisteo Basin Preserve, we look forward to working on the second Primary Habitat Region in Spring 2014. Stay tuned for news about the New Moon Overlook!

Overview of Prairie Dog Area A

Paula Martin
Grasslands Wildlife Coordinator
Great Plains Restoration Council


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