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[please see region's landscape video]

The Trans Pecos region falls within the northern portion of the Chihuahuan Desert, and consists of a large and diverse area made up of arid shrublands, grasslands, and forests. The region is cut by the Big Bend of the Rio Grande, reaches from El Paso in the west to the Pecos River in the east, from New Mexico to the north, and down to the Rio Grande and Mexico to the south. It rises to the 8700-foot Guadalupe Peaks, which may receive as much as 20 inches of rain per year, and drops down to the 1000-foot plains which have annual rainfall that may fall below 8 inches.

El Paso is the major city in this region, making up close to 80% of its 900,000 residents. The major industries include cattle, sheep and goat husbandry, oil and gas production, and tourism.

The region is rich in protected lands, including the Big Bend National Park (810,763 acres), and Big Bend Ranch State Park (293,028 acres), Franklin Mountains State Park (23,863 acres), Guadalupe Mountains National Park (86,400 acres), Monahans Sandhills State Park (3840 acres), and the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River (196 miles long) which cover extensive creosotebush open scrub deserts, Chihuahuan Desert scrub, sand dunes, yucca savannahs, montane pinyon-juniper-oak woodlands, and sheer canyons.

The area faces several environmental challenges. Water supply shortages, particularly in growing urban areas such as El Paso, have largely drained local bolsons, caused the Rio Grande to run dry for over 100 miles below El Paso to as far as Presidio, and have led to various proposals to export groundwater from distant rural agricultural communities such as Valentine and Del Valle. Waste management problems for certain industries and communities have led to the divisive fights over municipal sludge and radioactive waste disposal. Energy and transportation needs in south and east Texas have brought a haze to the famously clear skies of the Trans Pecos.

Trans-Pecos communities represented in the archive include:

Alpine Susan Curry
Alpine Tom Curry
Alpine Hal Flanders
Dell City Jim Lynch
Dell City Mary Lynch
Eagle Pass Carol Cullar
Junction Bill Neiman
Lajitas Scooter Cheatham
Lajitas Marcos Paredes
Fort Stockton John Carpenter
Marathon Billy Pat McKinney
Marathon Bonnie McKinney
Marfa Gary Oliver
Marfa Chester Rowell
Midland Midge Erskine
Sierra Blanca Bill Addington
Spofford Tootsie Herndon

For more information, please contact:

Big Bend National Park

Big Bend Regional Sierra Club

Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute

El Paso Audubon Society

El Paso Regional Sierra Club

Guadalupe Mountains National Park


Conservation History Association of Texas
Texas Legacy Project

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