Abiotic Resource Use

Habitat disturbances from abiotic resource uses such as mining, oil and gas development, wind energy, ground water depletion, and hydropower occur throughout New Mexico, although they typically have localized impacts. Oil and gas development concerns are greatest in the shortgrass prairie, Colorado Plateau, and Chihuahuan Desert regions. There are concerns about mining in the Arizona-New Mexico Mountain Ecoregion.

Extractive Resource Uses
Extractive resource uses such as mining and oil and gas development occur throughout New Mexico and can influence ecosystem function, resilience and sustainability. On federal lands these activities are conducted under standards established by the Bureau of Land Management and are subject to further regulation by the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, Oil Conservation Division. Extractive resource uses may result in habitat fragmentation and loss through associated land clearing, road building, and disturbance from traffic, hauling and maintenance activities. Associated point-source pollution causes heavy-metal and highly acidic water pollution (Drabkowski 1993, Starnes and Gasper 1996, Reece 1995, Hilliard 1994), groundwater pollution (Miller et al. 1996), air pollution, noise, and habitat conversion (Dinerstein et al. 2000). Any of these activities and their adverse outcomes may ultimately lead to the reduction of wildlife populations (Sias and Snell 1998).

Wind Energy Development
Wind energy facilities are not yet widespread in New Mexico. However, as alternative sources of energy become more important to the state and nation and related technology improves there is potential for more wind-energy sites to be developed. Wind-generated electrical energy is environmentally friendly. It does not create air-polluting and climate-modifying emissions. Nevertheless, wind turbines, particularly in the large arrays, can adversely affect wildlife and wildlife habitats. Effects include habitat fragmentation due to access roads and pads and direct killing of bats and birds (particularly raptors) that strike moving blades. Lighted wind towers over 200 feet have the same potential as communication towers to attract and kill night-flying migratory birds and bats (NMDGF 2004b).

Ground Water Depletion
Groundwater levels in New Mexico have dropped considerably due to pumping for agricultural and urban needs. Several proposals and plans exist for desalination plants in New Mexico. The surface water loss resulting from the water withdrawal and dewatering necessary to support anthropocentric water needs, exacerbated by drought conditions, will continue to influence habitats in New Mexico. Lowered water tables affect all of New Mexico's habitats, but can have considerable affects on small cienegas, springs, seeps and marshes and their associated SGCN.