San Andres National Wildlife Refuge
In the San Andres Mountains, San Andres National Wildlife Refuge
San Andres National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1941 in the southern San Andres Mountains. The property is completely surrounded by the White Sands Missile Range and is not open to the public. The refuge was originally established to preserve habitat needed for the preservation of desert bighorn sheep, a species on the New Mexico state threatened species list.
San Andres National Wildlife Refuge contains 57,215 acres with elevations ranging from about 4,200' to a high of 8,239' at the summit of San Andres Peak. Vegetation varies from Chihuahuan desert grasslands (sideoats, blue, hairy and black grama grasses) and creosotebush (with Apache plume, mountain mahogany, yucca, sotol, ocotillo, desert willow, algerita, cactus and century plant) in the bajadas to pinyon-pine and juniper woodlands along the upper mountain ridges and peaks. Throughout the refuge seeps, springs and seasonal stream flows provide water for lush riparian zones scattered through the mountain canyons.
Before World War II, this area was wide open and had a long history of lost gold mines and outlaw hideouts. Native American artifacts found on the property suggest they were here as early as 900 CE. Some stories say Apache Chief Geronimo frequented the area but there are records of Apache Chief Vittorio fighting skirmishes with the US Cavalry in these mountains. Everything changed during World War II when the land all around (2.2 million acres) was pre-empted to become the White Sands Testing Range.
Desert bighorn sheep at San Andres National Wildlife Refuge
August 27, 2010: The first time ever a black bear was seen at San Andres National Wildlife Refuge
San Andres National Wildlife Refuge area map