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New Mexico

Lichty Ecological Research Center


The Lichty Center is located approximately 35 miles west of Silver City, in the Cliff-Gila Valley of southwestern New Mexico. It is located on the Conservancy’s 80-acre Gila River Farm along the Gila River downstream from where the river emerges from the Mogollon Mountains in the Gila Wilderness. 

The Lichty Center supports research and gatherings that align with the Conservancy's conservation objectives. 

In spite of their biological significance, the Gila and Mimbres watersheds have not been well studied. Critical information regarding target species demographics and ecological function is limited yet needed to support conservation efforts. The Conservancy established the Lichty Ecological Research Center in the Gila Valley specifically to support research that will build an understanding of these two river systems and their watersheds. 

As a field station, the Lichty Center houses researchers and provides office and laboratory space for scientific work. Researchers who use the Gila River Farm and Lichty Center enter into agreements with the Conservancy to share their study objectives, data and results. Proposals from researchers are evaluated by Conservancy staff to determine whether the projects are compatible with Conservancy objectives. 

The facility may be used for environmental education programs, depending on whether they support educational partnerships with local schools and groups. The Lichty Center also makes maps, books, data, and reports available for researchers, policy makers, and environmental educators to use on site. 

Facilities

The Lichty Center offers housing, an office, Internet service, a small laboratory, and a meeting room. Housing consists of three bedrooms (6 beds), three bathrooms, and a kitchen. The laboratory includes a dissecting scope, a drying oven, a scale and hydrological monitoring equipment. 

Research

Scientists, instructors, and students working at the Lichty Center are encouraged to work closely with Conservancy staff in New Mexico to design research projects that can be applied to conservation, such as the restoration of rivers, streams and watershed, the restoration of natural fire regimes, and the recovery of threatened or endangered species. 

Recent research has included:

  • Effects of flood pulses on ecosystem processes
  • Effects of groundwater fluctuations on riparian forests
  • Fluvial geomorphology surveys of the Gila river
  • Habitat use and population dynamics of the southwestern willow flycatcher
  • Survey of salt cedar (tamarisk) along the Gila River
  • Assessing and predicting burn severity in the Gila Wilderness
  • Monitoring avian productivity and survivorship 
Setting

The Gila River and Mimbres River rank among the most diverse in New Mexico. The Gila River is among the last free-flowing rivers in New Mexico and the Southwest. It sustains a remarkable diversity of flora and fauna that includes the densest population of non-colonial breeding birds in the United States and some of the best examples of riparian forest in the Southwest. Because of their diversity and intact community structure, protection of these systems is a top priority for the Conservancy in New Mexico. 

Directions

Take Hwy. 180 approximately 30 miles west of Silver City. Drive past the turn-off on Hwy. 211 towards Gila. Take the second turn for Hwy. 211 in Cliff. After about a mile on 211, go left (north) on Hwy. 293 and drive to mile marker 4. Take a right immediately after the mile marker sign, turning into the driveway with a small sign that says “Gila River Farm.”

Contact

Martha Schumann
The Nature Conservancy's Southwest New Mexico Field Representative
mschumann@tnc.org
505-538-9700 (office)
505-590-2594 (cell)
 

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