Sunday, September 2, 2007


Why the Conservancy selected this site
Deep in the heart of the Chihuahuan Desert in northeast Mexico lies the 200,000-acre Cuatro Ciénegas Valley. This striking landscape is characterized by hundreds of azure freshwater springs, desert gardens and white gypsum dunes surrounded by mountains rising to 10,000 feet. Beyond its almost surreal beauty, Cuatro Ciénegas is home to at least 77 species of plant and animal found nowhere else on Earth.


The Valley is one of only two desert-spring ecosystems remaining in North America and is increasingly threatened by unsustainable agricultural practices. As a result, the biological diversity of Pozas Azules and the surrounding area are adversely effected by overgrazing, the over-exploitation of ground and surface water and invasive species.

Our Conservation Strategy

In an effort to establish a larger private lands conservation initiative, the remaining springs in Cuatro Ciénegas are being evaluated and prioritized as conservation areas in conjunction with the investigation of private lands conservation mechanisms. Through partnerships with local landowners, the Conservancy and Mexican conservation organization Pronatura Noreste are working together in an effort to implement a strategic plan to permanently protect the Cuatro Ciénegas Valley.

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing

In November 2000, with The Nature Conservancy's support, Pronatura Noreste (PNE) purchased Rancho Pozas Azules (Ranch of the Blue Pools), a 7,000-acre ranch harboring more than 130 of the valley's 450 desert springs. The acquisition of Rancho Pozas Azules marked the first-ever conservation easement in the state of Coahuila and the largest private land conservation purchase in Mexico's history. It is now owned and managed by PNE as a nature preserve.

Currently, the partners are working to protect two properties north of Rancho Pozas Azules, which include significant numbers of pools and are high priorities for protection. The Conservancy and PNE are also engaging local landowners in learning sustainable agriculture and groundwater conservation alternatives.

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