An extensive flat mesa bounded on the west by the Otero Escarpment and on the north by the Sacramento Mountains. The habitat is almost exclusively Chihuahuan Desert grassland with some shrubland. A large part, McGregor Range, is managed by Ft. Bliss under withdrawal from the BLM. This is used for grazing as long as it does not interfere with military activities resulting in McGregor Range being in good condition. BLM owns most of the mesa to the east of McGregor Range although some is privately held. The BLM lands have great potential for prairie dogs and all associated fauna and grassland birds.

Directions: From US-54 between Alamogordo and El Paso, turn east on NM-506. Numerous dirt and gravel roads go through various parts of the mesa.

Ornithological Summary

Otero Mesa is a large, relatively undisturbed tract of open grassland. The mesa is important for breeding Burrowing Owls. It has potential habitat for Aplomado Falcon and Mountain Plover. Migrating grassland birds including Long-billed Curlew and Upland Sandpiper use the mesa. It contains wintering and migration habitat for Baird's Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Sprague's Pipit, and Ferruginous Hawk. Ft. Bliss supplies bird information is from McGregor Range only. The La Luz Christmas Bird Count has produced a number of species of concern including Wood Duck, Lesser Scaup, Ferruginous Hawk, Sandhill Crane, Lewis' Woodpecker, Williamson's Sapsucker, Pinon Jay, Pygmy Nuthatch, Eastern and Mountain Bluebirds, Sage Thrasher, and Black-chinned, Sage, and Savannah Sparrows.

Sources: Ft. Bliss reports, J. Stokely Ligon, New Mexico Birds, 1961

Conservation Issues

Oil and gas exploration is being considered for Otero Mesa and will cause habitat fragmentation and degradation.

Ownership

Fort Bliss, Mr. Brian Locke, El Paso, TX, 79906, 915-568-3016

BLM-Las Cruces Office, 1800 Marquees, Las Cruces, NM, 88005, 505-525-4300

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