OTERO COUNTY, N.M. (KRQE) – Get ready for another fight over plans for the Otero Mesa. There has been another push by the feds to allow the oil and gas industries to swoop in on one of New Mexico’s most pristine areas.
Said to be the largest area left undeveloped in North America, many people do not want to see the Otero Mesa opened up to oil and gas development.
“We hunt there, we picnic there, we target shoot there, we bring our kids out and teach them weapon safety there. We hike, there’s mountain biking, there’s 4 wheelers, there’s camping, there’s all kinds of things that go on there,” said Brandy Robinson, Cloudcroft resident.
Home to the country’s only desert grassland of its kind as well as wildlife and thousands of petroglyphs, environmentalists have been fighting for decades to keep the land undeveloped.
Knowing the BLM is drafting a plan is raising those concerns again.
“This whole region of southern New Mexico used to be mostly grassland but over the past 150 years it’s been converted to the shrubland we see today,” said Kevin Bixby, Executive Director for the Southwest Environmental Center.
The Mesa in southern New Mexico has been used by ranchers and farmers for centuries. Development could potentially lead to 350 miles of new roads being built over the next 20 years — something people don’t want to see.
“It should just stay as it is. I like free, open land and I know the animals like free, open land,” said Roy Wells, Cloudcroft resident.
The Otero Mesa also sits on the state’s largest aquifer.
According to the Alamogordo Daily News, the Bureau of Land Management will release its plan for public comment in the spring.