EXISTING DEVELOPMENT AND USE OF LANDS AND RESOURCES
The present economic use of the J. C. Hunter, Jr., Guadalupe Mountain ranch is for mohair wool production. About 20 tons of wool is annually grown by some 4,000 angora goats. Horses necessary for the ranch operation also graze on the property.
Economic resources of the area are meager. Some building stone, road material, and salt have been produced. Ground water is a valuable resource where found, and several springs issue from the base of the mountains, No oil or gas has been found, and it is believed there is only a slight chance that any will be discovered. Minerals are mostly State owned.
The wildlife resources of the mountains have been supplemented by the transplanting of species which have prospered under the conservation practices of the landowner. The Merriam elk that once ranged here is now extinct. A different species, the wapiti or American elk, was introduced in 1925 and 1926, and by 1961 the original 44 head had increased to an estimated 500 animals. The elk have spread, and perhaps half of them are now in New Mexico. Hunting by State permit is discretionary, with the owner controlling the hunt. In 1960, nine elk were harvested. The native Merriam turkey disappeared from the Guadalupes years ago, but in 1954, 13 turkeys of the same species were planted by the State of New Mexico, in cooperation with the Texas Game and Fish Department, and in 1961 there were about 200 birds. Bluegill and rainbow trout, both exotic, have been twice planted in South McKittrick, and now reproduce naturally. Mule deer are harvested annually under the control of the State of Texas, at the discretion of the owner. There have been mountain sheep (Texas bighorn) in the Guadalupes, but the last sighting was in 1956. To encourage the propagation and proper distribution of animals, especially elk, in the Guadalupes, the water from a spring in Bear Canyon is pumped to steel tanks on the top, where gravity flow then distributes the water to other tanks, both steel and dirt.
The northwest sector of the ranch is used for goat raising, and is overgrazed. Fortunately, this area does not contain the most significant ecological values. Drift fences separate the goat range from the higher, more heavily forested and more scenic, southerly end of the Guadalupes which has been protected from domestic stock. This scenically pleasant upland area contains vegetation approaching the climax type for the site.
The lack of water precluded early-day overuse, and the present owner has instituted strict conservation practices in order to preserve the native vegetation. A sample of the permit Mr. Hunter issues to his guests is as follows:
TO GUESTS OF J. C. HUNTER, JR., IN MCKITTRICK CANYON:
In order to preserve the Canyon in its native state, please observe the following suggestions:
When you leave the highway and take the McKittrick road, you will be passing through land owned by Mr. Wallace Pratt and by the National Park Service. Please stay on the road until you enter my land, and do not bother any plant or animal life on these adjoining properties. Please close and lock any gates that are closed and locked when you find them.
I hope you enjoy your visit.
Last Updated: 009-Feb-2007