The land that now encompasses the Jornada Basin Long Term Ecological Research site has been impacted by people for centuries. Native Americans once camped here between the mountain ranges during the summer months, gathering grasses and burning mesquite for fuel. In the 19th century, cattle ranchers moved in from the east, drawn by the same waves of grass. Back then, the meadows, dotted by mesquite and other bushes, dominated the bottom of the basin, where water congregated after rolling downhill from surrounding mountain slopes, or bajada, and wind blew with less force. Where the land angled upwards, a border of tarbush rimmed the grasslands. Creosote grew where it could, but remained concentrated near the arroyos.
Read the entire story on the LTER Network blog.