Historical Highlights

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1598 Don Juan de Oñate followed the Rio Grande northward during his conquest and settlement of New Mexico. During the next three centuries, the Jornada del Muerto (Journey of Death) Plain was traversed by mission supply caravans, the Santa Fe-Chihuahuan trade caravans and, finally, stagecoach lines. This trail is still visible a few miles west of the Jornada Experimental Range.

1858 First land survey of the area which later formed the Jornada Experimental Range, with records made of soils and vegetation.

1880 Beginning of a decade during which ranches were established at springs in the San Andres Mountains and watering points on the Jornada basin.

1901 C.T. Turney, a rancher, settled at site of present-day Jornada Headquarters and gained control of water sources in the area.

1904 E.O. Wooton, visionary botanist with the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, started cooperative range investigations with C.T. Turney and other ranchers in southern New Mexico.

1912 Largely through the efforts of Wooton, the Public Domain lands comprising the C.T. Turney ranch were set aside by Presidential Executive Order as the Jornada Range Reserve, administered under Wooton’s direction by the Bureau of Plant Industry within the USDA. Turney remained as the first of a continuing succession of cooperating ranchers.

1915 Jornada Range Reserve was transferred from the Bureau of Plant Industry to the U.S. Forest Service.

1927 Jornada Range Reserve renamed Jornada Experimental Range.

1945 U.S. Army leased mountain portion of Jornada as a buffer zone for White Sands Missile Range.

1953 Additional area leased by Army.

1954 Jornada Experimental Range transferred from the Forest Service to the Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

1971 Research and grazing use reinstated on part of the Army-controlled portion of the Jornada Experimental Range.

1977 Selected as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Program.  Also, designated as an Ecological Reserve by The Institute of Ecology.

1981 Jornada basin is included as one of the original sites of the National Science Foundation’s network for long-term ecological research (LTER) in the United States.

1983 Domestic sheep introduced on the Jornada Experimental Range.

1984 Cooperative rancher arrangement discontinued, and all livestock purchased and managed by Experimental Range staff as property of the State of New Mexico.

1995 Advisory Committee established with representation from agricultural, environmental and stewardship interests.

2000 Construction of a Jornada Experimental Range headquarters building with offices, laboratories, and conference facilities on the campus of New Mexico State University.

2012 Centennial celebration.