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Guadalupe Canyon WSA

Welcome to Wilderness Wednesday, our weekly posting to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act.
The Guadalupe Canyon Wilderness Study Area (WSA) is our focus this week.  Last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service identified two units in New Mexico as critical habitat for jaguars, and this WSA, along with two others, forms the core of one of those units.  The other two WSAs are the Baker Canyon WSA managed by BLM-Arizona and the Bunk Robinson WSA, managed by the U.S. Forest Service.  These three contiguous WSAs form a 24,000 acre complex of lands in the Peloncillo Mountains, which are managed to protect their suitability for Wilderness designation. The jaguar is listed as an endangered species (http://www.fws.gov/southwest/index.html).  Although jaguars have not been documented in New Mexico for 8 years, and modern occurrences have only been lone males, this critical habitat may support individual animals that disperse into the U.S. from the nearest core population in Mexico.  Management under protective WSA status complements the goal of assuring that suitable habitat is available for jaguars that make this move.
Located in the far southwestern corner of New Mexico, the WSA is a place with significant biological values.  The vegetation of the WSA is Madrean Encinal woodlands dominated by open stands of oaks and perennial grasses.  Madrean woodlands have exceptionally high biodiversity due to complex topography and geology.  The WSA is located in the overlap between the northern and southern extent of the distributions of many plants and animals, further contributing to high biological diversity.  It is positioned on the northern end of an ecoregion mostly occurring in Mexico.  Consequently, this part of the ecoregion is the only area where some species occur in the U.S.  The area is renowned for bird observation, with a large variety of breeding birds and occasional rarities.

Though the WSA has outstanding opportunities for solitude and primitive recreation, it is extremely remote, without trails, and difficult to access without extensive hiking.  For more information please visit the Guadalupe Canyon WSA website

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Last updated: 04-23-2014