Northeast of Artesia, N.M., Devon Energy is helping reduce mesquite on a 4,000-acre tract of the Turkey Track Ranch. In so doing, the company hopes to see a pronounced return of the lesser prairie chicken.
In 2010, Devon contributed $50,000 toward a federal-private partnership aimed at restoring habitat for the rangeland bird, as well as antelope, deer and other grassland-dependent wildlife.
The New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts will use Devon’s donation – plus a $50,000 match from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management – to reduce mesquite.
“The mesquite gets such a strong foothold that it prevents growth by grass and other plant life,” said Chuck Schmidt, manager of the BLM’s Roswell field office. “All wildlife will benefit from this.”
The chemical treatment is part of a plan to enhance habitat for the prairie chicken, a candidate for federal designation as a threatened or endangered species.
In late 2009, the federal agency presented its One Million Acre Award to Devon for the company’s help in restoring 1 million acres of New Mexico rangeland. That award stemmed in part from the company’s $200,000 contribution since 2006 to the BLM’s Restore New Mexico program. Additionally, Devon has contributed toward noxious weed control in Eddy County and funded a survey of sand dune lizards in Chaves County.
“Devon always searches for opportunities to reduce our temporary surface disturbance,” said Vicky Sanchez, Devon’s regulatory advisor for New Mexico. The Restore New Mexico program represents an exciting opportunity for Devon to contribute to surrounding communities and assist in statewide reclamation efforts.”