Galisteo Basin Preserve

Listen to the sounds of the Galisteo Basin Preserve recorded by David Dunn

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The Galisteo Basin Preserve’s dramatic skies, topography, geology, and plant and animal life make this land feel sacred to those who know it. Our hope is to honor its qualities of inspiration and to foster a community of people who care deeply about its health.

Preserve residents enjoy northern New Mexico's world-famous climate, as well as the Galisteo Basin's classic western landscape. The area is celebrated for its mild, semi-arid, high-desert conditions—temperate winters, comfortable summers, and brilliant blue skies in all seasons.

 

Climate

Temperatures
During the summer months, daytime temperatures on the Preserve can reach highs of 80-95° F, with evening temperatures dipping down to the mid 50s. During the winter months, average daytime high temperatures range between 40-55° with evening temperatures falling to the mid-teens. Subzero temperatures are very rare. The warmest days on the Preserve are usually in June, before the summer rains of July and August.

Precipitation
Precipitation averages 12-14 inches per year, with approximately 30 days per year of measurable rain or snowfall (measured as at least 0.01 inches). Most precipitation falls during the "monsoon season" in July and August, with intermittent rain and snow throughout October-April.

Humidity
Average annual relative humidity on the Preserve ranges from 65 percent at sunrise to 30 percent by mid-afternoon. Average afternoon humidity in the summer is often less than 20 percent (and can drop as low as 4 percent). Although not without its challenges, low relative humidity serves to moderate the feel of higher and lower temperatures during the year.

Sunshine
The Galisteo Basin Preserve is blessed with an exceptional quality of light and warmth. Typically, the region enjoys 300+ days of sunshine annually. Abundant sunshine offers residents extraordinary opportunities for solar energy and solar heating.

Ecology

The Galisteo Basin Preserve is geographically characterized by a gentle rolling terrain, piñon/juniper forest, short-grass prairie, and meandering stream corridors. Regionally, the Preserve reflects the ecological values of the Galisteo River, the Ortiz Mountains, and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Flora
The Galisteo Basin Preserve is a landscape of piñon and juniper forest, as well as grasslands of blue grama, hairy grama, and galleta. Along the property's stream corridors (arroyos), willow, tamarisk, and cottonwood tree species can be found. The Preserve's high-desert grasslands include chamisa, cholla, prickly pear cactus, yucca, saltbush, and rubber rabbit bush.

Fauna
The Galisteo Basin Preserve's wildlife resources are affected by many factors, including vegetation and habitat, water, recent fires, and the availability of relatively unbroken migration corridors. The land is home to a rich variety of mammals, birds, and reptiles. Among other species, salamanders, lizards, frogs, snakes, jackrabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, prairie dogs, coyote, foxes, deer, and sometimes antelope and bear, are in evidence.

The Preserve provides native habitat, or forage and resting places, for an enormous variety of birds, including the snowy egret, green-winged teal, osprey, bald eagle, golden eagle, northern harrier, sharp-shinned hawk, Cooper's hawk, red-tailed hawk, American kestrel, Merlin, peregrine falcon, blue grouse, great horned owl, nighthawks, swifts, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, and a large variety of songbirds.

Hydrology

The Galisteo Basin Preserve is located within the Galisteo Watershed. (A watershed is a geographic area defined by the flow or movement of surface water in the form of rain or snow.)

The drainage of the Galisteo Watershed covers roughly 730 square miles. In the north, the Galisteo Watershed originates from Thompson Peak, located in the Santa Fe National Forest, and runs south and west until it joins the Rio Grande at Santo Domingo Pueblo.

Drinking water for most of New Mexico's commercial and residential land uses is derived from large underground aquifers associated with thick deposits of sand gravel under the Rio Grande Valley, the Pecos River Valley, and other large river basins, like the Galisteo River.

Geohydrological reports completed in 1996 and 2003 indicate that the Ancha Formation (a higher and geologically younger deposit) and the Galisteo Formation (a lower and older deposit) offer the best source of water for residents of the Galisteo Basin Preserve.

The Preserve's resource-efficient development standards and land restoration practices are designed to limit household consumption within the Trenza village community to 0.17 ac/ft, while concurrently improving the water storage capability of alluvial soils. By this approach, the water resources of the Galisteo Basin could be measurably enhanced—rather than consumed or degraded—by the project's activities.

 

Sources

“The Galisteo Watershed: A Vision for the Future,” Galisteo Watershed Collaborative Planning, March 2004.

"New Mexico Earth Matters," NM Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources, January 2001.

   
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