BLM Grassland Restoration Treatments to Begin in Southern New Mexico



BLM Office:

Las Cruces District Office

Media Contact:

Starting the second week of June 2017 and continuing for approximately two weeks, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Las Cruces District Office and other partners will begin herbicide treatments of mesquite at several locations within Dona Ana County, New Mexico.  Approximately 13,000 acres of federal, state, and private lands will be treated as part of the BLM’s Restore New Mexico initiative.

Restore New Mexico is an aggressive partnership between land owners and land management agencies to restore the state’s grasslands, woodlands, and riparian areas to a healthy, more productive condition.  Large areas of desert grassland in New Mexico were lost to shrub invasion beginning in the mid-to-late 1800’s.  Invasive shrub treatments are being conducted across the state to reduce the density of brush species, such as mesquite and creosote, which have encroached on historic desert grasslands.  Once invasive shrub densities are reduced, more desirable native grasses and forbs can reestablish themselves.

General project locations are approximately 20 miles west and 10 miles south of the Las Cruces Airport.  The primary objective for these proposed herbicide treatments is to enhance watershed function by improving ground cover and thus decreasing erosion and storm runoff, while retaining soil moisture.  The treatments also improve habitat that will support more diverse and prolific wildlife communities. 

The herbicides proposed for treatment of mesquite on BLM lands are Sendero ® (clopyralid + aminopyralid), and Remedy Ultra ® (triclopyr) at a rate of ¼ or ½ pound active ingredient each per acre depending on management objectives on BLM lands.  These herbicides are approved for use by the Environmental Protection Agency and BLM. The herbicides would be added to a “tank mix” of water, an non-ionic surfactant, and drift control, which is aerially applied at a rate of one gallon per acre from a fixed wing aircraft or helicopter, using Global Positioning System coordinates with computer-driven applicators to treat target specific land areas.

The herbicide treatment would occur during June and July when soil temperatures warm sufficiently to initiate maximum plant (mesquite) growth.  The herbicide is absorbed directly through the leaf surface and becomes active in the plant preventing photosynthesis.  There would be an estimated 40% average root kill on mesquite using this combination and amount of active ingredient per acre of herbicide. 

Because the herbicide is selective for broadleaf shrubs and forbs, grasses would benefit from the reduction of competition for nutrients and space, and should increase in cover and density significantly.  Forbs and grasses could begin to re-establish late in the growing season immediately following treatment or the following year from the soil seed bank, depending on the amount and timing of precipitation received.  Agreements have been made with livestock operators within treatment areas to ensure adequate grazing rest following the treatment to further promote grassland recovery.

Once these landscapes are transformed from current shrub dominated to historic grassland conditions, fire may be reintroduced to maintain their health and vigor.

For more information about this project, contact Lane Hauser, Rangeland Management Specialist at the BLM’s Las Cruces District Office, at 575-525-4464. 

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.