“I’m concerned about the future of the world’s wildlife and agricultural land”: Joan Bybee, owner of the Mesteño Draw Ranch.
The Mesteño Draw Ranch, established in 1991 by Joan Bybee, is located 7 miles north of Mountainair, New Mexico, along the base of the Manzano Mountains within a Piñón/Juniper Grassland ecosystem. It is near the Village of Punta de Agua and Manzanos Mountains State Park.
The ranch primarily consists of open grasslands with some scattered pinon pine, juniper and oak.
Mesteño Draw, as Joan has named her section of the creek, is the lower extension of Ox Canyon that rises from a spring in the Manzano Mountains and continues into the closed Estancia Basin.
Mesteño Draw runs through the ranch and is an intermittent stream that flows primarily during spring runoff and monsoon season. It once provided continual water to homesteads and was used to irrigate lawns in Mountainair. Due to many factors that include drought, fire suppression, juniper invasion, and year-round grazing, the creek no longer has a perennial flow.
These are historic lands with old pinto bean fields and five different homestead sites dotting the landscape. The homestead sites include an old house, barn and corral area that the landowner still uses for her small livestock operation
The Mesteño Draw Ranch is a prime example of a small-scale, grass-fed cattle operation that employs sustainable grazing practices on a relatively small amount of land.
Joan has made a concerted effort to restore and enhance the Mesteno Draw riparian corridor.
She has primarily worked with the Quivira Coalition, the Claunch-Pinto Soil and Water Conservation District and the Natural Resources Conservation Service to install small and large rock dams all along the draw to help slow the flow of water and prevent further channelization and erosion by building up sediment.
She has conducted juniper/brush removal activities on a large portion of the ranch to keep the grasslands open and productive.
When asked why she decided to complete an easement over her ranch, Joan stated that she is “concerned about the future of the world’s wildlife and agricultural land with the current trend of dividing land up into residential areas. Grasslands that are kept healthy play an important role in drawing carbon from the atmosphere and in maintaining healthy mineral and water cycles”.
She also stated that she “hopes that future generations will be able to enjoy the natural environment both at the scenic landscape level and at the finer-grained level of the individual plants and animals that are supported by the land.”
By Gilbert Castro | ENC News