About the Preserve
In 1994, the Conservancy established the Mimbres River Preserve in southwestern New Mexico, near Silver City. The preserve is an irreplaceable riparian area covering 600 acres and 5 river miles. The river is a closed-basin desert stream—meaning its surface water never flows out of the Mimbres River basin. But over its 40-mile length, the Mimbres covers a wide and diverse landscape, from its headwaters near 10,000 feet in the Aldo Leopold Wilderness of the Gila National Forest to its terminus in the Chihuahuan Desert grasslands near the Mexican border.
Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
The Conservancy and its partners are working to re-establish the river’s natural flow regime, restore fire to the watershed’s uplands and encourage the recovery of riparian forests and aquatic habitat lost to channelization.
The preserve was established not only for the characteristic riparian communities it supports but to conserve river habitat for the endangered Chihuahua chub and Chiricahua leopard frog. The chub and leopard frog have declined because of habitat degradation due to water withdrawals, river channelization, parasites and pathogens and the introduction of non-native fish species.
Our ultimate goal is to fully restore the river’s native species and natural communities and the ecological processes—including fire and flooding—that support them.
Key strategies include land acquisition for direct protection; development of conservation partnerships with individuals and public agencies to improve river and watershed management; compatible economic development via conservation ranching in the upper Mimbres River watershed; and sponsorship and dissemination of ecological research to enhance community understanding.