Save Otero Mesa
Mining and drilling threaten this rare desert landscape that is a potential drinking water source and critical habitat for 1,000 native species, including a herd of pronghorn antelope. We’re urging President Obama to save Otero Mesa from these threats forever by formally designating it as a national monument.
Drilling in Otero Mesa: A terrible idea
In early 2011, Environment New Mexico discovered that a multinational corporation called Geovic has staked more than 180 hard-rock mining claims on Otero Mesa’s Wind Mountain.
Geovic would likely use mountaintop removal techniques to extract minerals like zirconium, commonly used to make fake diamonds. To reach the minerals, mountains could literally be blasted away, and toxic runoff from the chemicals involved could leach into the groundwater below.
The mesa has been open to mining and drilling since 2004, when the Bush administration removed its protections.
The state of New Mexico pushed back and offered an alternative that would have allowed drilling only in areas that don’t put the sensitive ecosystem and wildlife at risk. But the plan was rejected by the federal Bureau of Land Management, the agency that controls oil and gas development in the area.
Now, we’re calling on the Obama administration to designate Otero Mesa as a national monument — a step that would allow us to continue to enjoy the mesa for hunting, hiking, and other activities, but that would protect the land from being scarred by mining and drilling.
At risk: An irreplaceable treasure
With its thousands of petrogylphs and archeological sites dating back more than 500 years, Otero Mesa is a window into New Mexico’s history. Otero Mesa boasts the largest and wildest grassland left on public lands in America and a herd of pronghorn antelope. Among the 1,000 species of native wildlife, you can find prairie dog villages, mule deer, Aplomado falcons and more than 345 of the world’s 1,500 cacti species.
Protecting the mesa is also critical to our water supply. It’s located above the Salt Basin Aquifer. Drilling and mining would threaten both the wildlife and the water quality.
With your help, we can win
Environment New Mexico is bringing together thousands of people to make sure Otero Mesa gets the protection it deserves. The gas and mining companies don’t like it, but our campaign to save Otero Mesa is gaining momentum.
With your support, we are showing President Obama that New Mexicans want to protect Otero Mesa now and for generations to come. Thousands of postcards have been signed and presented to the Obama administration; hundreds of hand-written letters have been sent directly to President Obama; and countless calls have been made to our senators to ensure their support for an Otero Mesa National Monument.
We can save Otero Mesa, but we need everyone to pitch in. Join us today.
- Otero Mesa sits atop one of our last untapped sources of drinking water—which could be contaminated by mining operations.
- Otero Mesa is home to 1,000 native species — including a herd of pronghorn antelope.
- 1 million acres of wild grasslands are vulnerable to drilling and mining.
- 180 hard-rock mining claims have been staked on Otero Mesa’s Wind Mountain.