Preserving a Working Ranch Photo by Chas Isenhart

Preserving a Working Ranch

Greg Moore manages his 23,000-acre ranch in eastern New Mexico to support both cattle and wildlife. To ensure the playas and grasslands continue to be preserved, he worked with New Mexico Land Conservancy to put his ranch under a conservation easement. He has also restored playas by filling in pits and developed alternative water sources for his cattle.

“I just don’t think people understood what a playa does, what the nature of it is — and that’s be an infiltrator, that water going down,” says Greg. “The thing we didn’t understand was when you put a pit tank in there, you disturbed what that playa was supposed to do.”

There are many programs available to help landowners conserve and restore playas. Learn about playa conservation programs >>

For more information about conservation easements, visit

Restoring Playas for a Better Future Photo by Chas Isenhart

Restoring Playas for a Better Future

Pleasure Lake Farms is a family operation in eastern New Mexico. With drought and declining aquifer levels, Bo and Dru Stevens are adapting their farming practices for a sustainable future, including restoring a playa to support groundwater recharge and provide wildlife habitat.

“The only way I know of that our aquifer can recharge are through the playas,” says Bo. “I’ve learned and come to realize that you don’t fight against a playa and try to turn it into something that it’s not. A playa is not a place to grow crops. If we can get even a portion of the playas that we have around here to be back in their natural state, where they can recharge, we’re going to have a whole lot better future for agriculture and farmers as a whole.”

There are many programs available to help landowners conserve and restore playas. Learn about playa conservation programs >>

Conservation Program Pays for Playa Restoration Photo by 12th Gate Studios

Conservation Program Pays for Playa Restoration

Did you know that restoring playas on your land can help recharge the aquifer? And now, there is a conservation program that provides landowners with financial and technical assistance to restore the hydrological function of their playas.

The Central Curry Soil and Water Conservation District has partnered with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and Playa Lakes Joint Venture to offer this program to Curry County residents. The program is designed to restore playas and surrounding grass buffers through sediment removal, buffer planting, pit filling, channel remediation, and other modifications such as berms that allow water to flow into playas. The program covers 100% of the restoration costs (determined at time of the site visit) with the agreement that the playa will not be farmed for 20 years. Landowners receive a one-time reimbursement payment for the restoration costs.

To learn more about this playa conservation program, discuss eligibility or arrange a site visit, contact Christopher Rustay from Playa Lakes Joint Venture, a pre-approved CCSWCD agent, at or 575-208-4648.


For more information, read Man on hunt for a few damaged playas in The Eastern New Mexico News.