Austin, TX | May 05, 2011
The Nature Conservancy of Texas announced today the donation of the Gypsum Dunes Preserve in West Texas to the National Park Service. The 177-acre preserve will be incorporated into Guadalupe Mountains National Park. This preserve is part of a larger 2,000- acre system which comprises the second-largest dune field in the continental United States, and possibly all of North America.
“There is literally no other place like this in Texas and very few places on Earth that compare. These dunes not only provide some of the most enchanting views you’ll ever set eyes on, they are also incredibly important from an ecological perspective,” said Laura Huffman, state director for The Nature Conservancy of Texas. “The Conservancy is delighted this extraordinary place will remain in the public trust for the people of Texas and visitors from all over to enjoy for generations to come.”
Projecting into the northeastern corner of the arid Chihuahuan Desert, Guadalupe Mountains National Park has been described as America's best-kept secret. Filled with magic and majesty, the park encompasses Guadalupe Peak, the tallest point in Texas, and is home to ecosystems spanning 5,000 feet of elevation change from the desert floor to the mountain summit 8,749 feet above sea level. From the starkly beautiful gypsum dunes and salt flats to lush, stream-side woodlands, rocky canyons and mountain forests, these landscapes provide habitat for more than 400 species of animals and 1,000 species of trees and plants.
The Gypsum Dunes were donated to The Nature Conservancy in the early 1980s by the estate of Dorothy Croom. More recently, the dunes were managed in cooperation with the National Park Service and the Hudspeth Directive for Conservation (HDC), a local non-profit established by Linda Lynch with the goal of protecting the gypsum dunes and the salt beds that support them. The conservation-minded Lynch family of Dell City, Texas, also owned the majority of the surrounding gypsum dune field until the National Park Service purchased their land in 1998.
"We are very pleased that this preserve will join the established protection of the Salt Basin Dunes by the National Park Service in perpetuity,” said Linda Lynch. “The preserve is part of an important, larger desert ecosystem, encompassing the expansive salt basins to the west. We hope one day these desert pans will also be conserved and we view this donation as an important step towards that goal."
The dunes are located approximately nine miles outside of Dell City, just west of the historic Butterfield Stagecoach Trail. The public can access the dunes by hiking in through the western park boundary or by contacting the visitor’s center.
“Places where the public can explore and enjoy the rugged beauty of wilderness are so revered in Texas because there is very little public land. Severe cuts to vital conservation programs make collaboration between private, public and non-profit agencies like The Nature Conservancy and Lynch family all the more important,” said John V. Lujan, superintendent of the Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.