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Historic Chihuahuan Desert Laboratory
Dedicates New Facility By
The Jornada Experimental
Range in Las Cruces, N.M., now in its 90th year, today dedicated an $8.2
million, 29,000-square-foot building on the campus of
New Mexico State University.
The new research complex is part of the
Agricultural Research Service's largest
and oldest field station, a 193,000-acre facility established in 1912 within
the northern section of the vast Chihuahuan Desert, which stretches into
Mexico. ARS is the chief scientific research agency of the
U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The desert site is a living laboratory for the study of desert
rangelands. The research ranch, about one-fourth the size of Rhode Island, has
developed new technologies for remediating deserts and monitoring and managing
rangeland. U.S. Rep. Joe Skeen (R- N.M.) spoke at the ceremony this morning.
Other officials, including ARS Acting Administrator Edward B. Knipling, also
The building will provide office, laboratory and conference
space for 55 staff, including those from New Mexico State University, USDA's
Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and collaborators.
The Jornada researchers work closely with dozens of
collaborating scientists, including researchers from Mexico, to protect the
long-term environmental health of desert landscapes. Their work applies to
deserts throughout the American Southwest and the world. Scientists at the
Jornada cooperate with diverse organizations, including the
New Mexico Cattle Growers
Association, The Nature Conservancy,
World Wildlife Fund and
Access to the university,
Los Alamos National Laboratory,
and NRCS gives Jornada researchers the additional resources needed to take on
the monumental task of remediating such a large area. They also work closely
with scientists in other states-- including ARS remote sensing scientists in
Maryland and National Aeronautics and Space
Administration scientists--to study interactions between desert landscapes
and global climate change.
From nine decades of experience has emerged a philosophy of
using natural things-- such as innate animal behavior and landscape
features--to protect and revegetate the desert inexpensively while raising