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May 052011

Full moon rising over the gypsum dunes in Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas. (Photo: PRNewsFoto/The Nature Conservancy in Texas, NPS/Doug Buehler)

From Green Right Now Reports

The Nature Conservancy today announced it has donated its 177-acre Gypsum Dunes Preserve in the famed Texas panhandle to the National Park Service. The preserve, which is part of the second largest dune field in the continental United States and possibly in all of North America, will be incorporated into the Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

“There is literally no other place like this in Texas and very few places on Earth that compare. These dunes not only provide some of the most enchanting views you’ll ever set eyes on, they are incredibly important from an ecological perspective as well,” Laura Huffman, state director for The Nature Conservancy of Texas, said in a statement. “We are delighted this extraordinary place will remain in the public trust for the people of Texas and visitors from all over to enjoy for generations to come.”

Projecting into the northeastern corner of the arid Chihuahuan Desert, Guadalupe Mountains National Park is often described as one of America’s best-kept natural secrets. Filled with magic and majesty, the park ranges more than 5,000 feet in elevation from the desert floor to Guadalupe Peak, the tallest point in Texas. The landscapes within the park span from starkly beautiful gypsum dunes and salt flats to lush streamside woodlands, rocky canyons and mountain forests, where more than 400 species of animals and 1,000 species of trees and other plants can be found.

The gypsum dunes were donated to The Nature Conservancy in the early 1980s by the estate of Dorothy Croom. More recently, the Conservancy managed the property in cooperation with the National Park Service, which owns the Salt Basin Dunes surrounding the preserve, and the Hudspeth Directive for Conservation (HDC).

The dunes are located approximately nine miles outside of Dell City, Texas, just west of the historic Butterfield Stagecoach Trail. The public can access the dunes by hiking in through the western park boundary or by contacting the Pine Springs visitor center.

“Places where the public can explore and enjoy the rugged beauty of wilderness are so revered in Texas because there is very little public land. Severe cuts to vital conservation programs make collaboration between private, public and non-profit agencies all the more important,” said John V. Lujan, former superintendent of the Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

Get more information at nature.org/Texas.