The Restore New Mexico initiative started seven years ago as a collaboration between government, the oil and natural gas industry, ranchers and environmental groups to reclaim old oil fields and restore grassland habitat in Southeastern New Mexico for the Lesser Prairie Chicken and Dunes Sagebrush Lizard, both candidates for endangered status.
The program has since expanded geographically, with landscape-scale restoration projects now underway in the southwestern and northwestern parts of the state. And the program's growth has been good news for far more species than its original two targets, says Bill Merhege, Deputy State Director of Resources with the BLM.
"While we're we're doing all this, we're actually improving habitat for migratory songbirds, (which) are in decline West-wide because of the loss of grassland habitats."
It's Restore New Mexico's effect on THAT population that has garnered it the second-ever Presidential Migratory Bird Federal Stewardship Award.
Merhege says he hopes the initiative will eventually improve habitat on five million acres….it’s set to hit the two million mark this year.
more conservation news on our blog: earth air waves