Otero Mesa is a 1.2 million acre (4,900 km²) area in northern Chihuahuan Desert region of southern New Mexico. Between 1954 and 1965 the U.S. Army expanded its McGregor Range facilities at Fort Bliss onto Otero Mesa by purchasing ranches. In 2005, the Bureau of Land Management approved the area for exploratory drilling for oil and gas, but that approval is currently being litigated by the state of New Mexico and environmental groups who want the mesa to be recognized as protected wilderness.
On Tuesday, April 28, 2009, the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled against the US Bureau of Land Management plan for leasing the Otero Mesa for oil and gas extraction. The court found that the BLM had failed to consider an alternative that would leave the Otero Mesa unleased, and also failed to examine potential impacts to the underlying groundwater. The oil company HEYCO had been granted a lease for extracting natural gas form Otero Mesa, pending the outcome of the litigation.
The United States Department of the Interior has proposed creating an Otero Mesa as a National Monument, but it remains controversial, and President Barack Obama has not taken action on the proposal under the Antiquities Act of 1906 as of February 2010. Coordinates:
- BLM1990. Resource management plan amendment: McGregor Range, New Mexico. BLM-NM-PT-90-033-4410, U.S. Bur. Land Manage Las Cruces. One Vol. with Parts, various p.
- Ludwig, J.A., Muldavin, E., Blanche, K.R. "Vegetation Change and Surface Erosion in Desert Grasslands of Otero Mesa, Southern New Mexico: 1982 to 1995." The American Midland Naturalist, 144(2):273-285. 2000
- Stuart, Hans (June 6, 2005). "BLM's Next Oil and Gas Lease Sale to Include Otero Mesa Parcel". Bureau Of Land Management. Archived from the original on 2012-10-08. Retrieved 2014-02-13.
- Kirk Johnson (February 20, 2010). "In the West, 'Monument' is a Fighting Word". New York Times. p. A8. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
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