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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Legacy of Charles Travis Turney: the Jornada Experimental Range

Author
item HAVSTAD, KRIS

Submitted to: Archeological Society of New Mexico
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 1, 1996
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: The Jornada Experimental Range in southern New Mexico is one of the oldest rangeland research sites in the world. It was established by the USDA in 1912 in response to the need for information on the proper management of western rangelands. The Experimental Range was established in cooperation with Mr. Charles T. Turney, a prominent rancher in the Las Cruces, NM area. .Mr. Turney deeded 320 acres around 9 wells in the Jornada basin because th base property for the 193,000 acre Range was created from unappropriated public domain. In conjunction with USDA scientists, Mr. Turney agreed to participate in research on management practices for drought conditions, quantification of carrying capacities of native rangelands, technologies for rangeland improvement, and methods for distributing grazing use. Over the past 84 years Experimental Range scientists have continued pursuing the vision of C.T. Turney and made significant contributions to principles for western rangeland management. Today, the mission is to use a detailed understanding of ecological processes to develop more effective methods for rangeland management. This is a logical continuation of the original purpose in cooperation with Mr. Turney.

Technical Abstract: The Jornada Experimental Range (JER) in southcentral New Mexico has served as a field research laboratory since its establishment in 1912. The varied scientific activities on the range throughout this century have led to important discoveries about desert ecosystems that have been the basis for principles of land management that have application around the globe. This sregion is probably the most extensively studied desert on earth, and on-site research activities continue to flourish as we approach the next millennium. From microscopic scale studies of soil micro-organisms to synoptic scale assessments of vegetation patterns detected from satellite based sensors, the JER is addressing a multitude of research needs relevant to natural resource management issues. One phenomena that we have continually observed in our studies over the years is that small events can have cascading effects on ecosystem structures and functions. A period of drought, an innocuous introduction of an alien species, unmanaged grazing, or dispersal of seed into a new area are examples of events that can have far reaching effects in subsequent decades. Like these biological events, the inception of the JER was based on a relatively small event that has then cascaded into the legacy of scientific discovery that is the Jornada range today. In 1904, Harvey Ringer, a man not particularly interested in the cattle business, sold 16 ha of land in the southcentral portion of the 3000 km*2 Jornada plain to a man from Texas, Mr. C. T. Turney.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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