Environmental Factors

Lightning strikes amidst a bright purple sky and white sand dunes
Storms are common during White Sands' monsoon season in the late summer.

R. Burghart Photo

 
 

As stewards of our nation’s natural and cultural resources, it is incredibly important that we know the impact of environmental factors that contribute to or threaten the integrity of this landscape. Understanding the complex and interconnected relationships between climate change, stabilized environmental conditions, native and non-native species, and pollution can provide the tools necessary for the preservation and protection of natural and cultural protected within White Sands National Monument. It is critical to understand the natural systems within the monument in order to identify threats to the resources. Continue reading to understand how the unique environment here at White Sands has equally unique contributing environmental factors.

 
An oryx stands amidst grass

NPS Photo

Non-Native Species
The spread of invasive species is recognized as one of the major factors contributing to ecosystem change and instability throughout the world. Here at White Sands, invasive species are certainly changing our landscape. African oryx trample native plants and create numerous game trails. Tamarisk (salt cedar) can soak up hundreds of gallons of water a day, choking out native vegetation. Other non-native plants, like the Russian thistle and African rue, also grow in the area. These invasive species affect the native ecosystems at White Sands and pose a challenge to preserving the monument’s natural environment.
 
A tall metal rod extends into a blue sky.

NPS Photo

Climate Change
The White Sands Dune Field is a sensitive system that will be negatively impacted by changes in climate and sustained drought because it is a wet dune system that requires moisture. Learn more about the ongoing research at the monument that is helping resource managers better understand the relationship between climate and the dunes in order to plan for the future.

Last updated: February 24, 2017

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 1086
Holloman AFB, NM 88330

Phone:

(575) 479-6124

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