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About the Refuge

Desert bighorn ram and ewe high on refuge escarpment / C. Rodden, USDOD

San Andres National Wildlife Refuge is a protected hidden gem within the deep canyons and steep peak crevices of the San Andres Mountain range.  Located in south central New Mexico, just east of the City of Las Cruces; most lifelong Las Crucens do not know of the refuge's existence!

"Wilderness is a resource which can shrink but not grow...creation of new wilderness in the full sense of the word is impossible."
     - Aldo Leopold


San Andres National Wildlife Refuge's name sake mountain range, the San Andres Mountains, remains one of the least disturbed Chihuahuan desert land masses in the United States.

Established in 1941 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt ‘for the conservation and development of natural wildlife resources,’ the 57,215-acre refuge is part of the National Wildlife Refuge System.  The System is a national network of lands and waters managed for the benefit of wildlife, habitat, and you.

San Andres 75th Anniversary Logo 512 x

This invaluable protected area is due to the refuge's location, within the boundaries of the 2.2 million-acre White Sands Missile Range, which restricts public access on these pristine lands.  For more information on access restrictions imposed by the Department of Defense, view our website' Alert page.

Though closed to the general public, San Andres National Wildlife Refuge serves as a natural laboratory that supports important research on southwestern flora and fauna, Chihuahuan desert ecosystems, hydrological status, effects of prescribed burning and wildfires, and protects historical and cultural sites.  The refuge includes ideal habitat for New Mexico’s desert bighorn sheep and has been crucial in de-listing the animals from the New Mexico State list of threatened and endangered species.  There is much to be learned concerning the San Andres mountain range and the plant and wildlife resources within it.

Page Photo Credits — Desert bighorn ram and ewe high on refuge escarpment / C. Rodden, USDOD, San Andres 75th Anniversary logo / © Kim Van Zandt
Last Updated: Feb 04, 2016
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