The Yoakum Dunes Preserve is a high quality example of deep sand shrubland/grassland which provides critical habitat for one of the last remaining viable strongholds for lesser prairie chickens in Texas. In addition, the site supports other species such as southern great plains wintering raptors, grassland bird guild, Texas horned lizard, pronghorn antelope, mule deer, and swift fox.
Yoakum Dunes Preserve which lies in Yoakum and Terry counties, contains habitat for a number of species of conservation concern, including the lark bunting, western burrowing owl, scaled quail, Cassin?s sparrow, ferruginous hawk and pronghorn.
The preserve is also home to the lesser prairie chicken, a keystone grassland species that was once common throughout the Southern High Plains. Since 1900, the lesser prairie chicken population has decreased by 97 percent, and the remaining birds are under growing threat from loss of habitat. The lesser prairie chicken is now considered a candidate for listing as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Its future hinges in part on the success of conservation efforts in and around this new preserve.
Texas? Southern High Plains face fragmentation and conversion of the land for human uses, including exploration and extraction of wind, oil and gas energy and the large-scale conversion of land for irrigated crops and livestock grazing. The ecological health of the area is also at risk from the suppression of naturally occurring fires and the spread of invasive and non-native species. Named for the Lea-Yoakum Dunes system characterized by deep sand with vegetated dunes rising to 30 feet high, the preserve is part of a series of dune systems straddling the border shared by Texas and eastern New Mexico. Conservation work at Yoakum Dunes Preserve dovetails with work being done just across the border in New Mexico at the Conservancy?s Milnesand Prairie Preserve, which protects nearly 19,000 acres of temperate grasslands and is managed by our Conservancy colleagues in that state.