In our region, true plains grassland is restricted to a few areas, primarily in northwest Chihuahua, the bootheel of New Mexico, and valleys south and west of the Huachuca Mountains. There are other small patches in northeast Sonora and southeast Arizona.
Historically, true valley grassland were more widespread and dominated the upper Santa Cruz River valley in Sonora, the Sulphur Springs, San Simon, and Animas Valleys, among others. Most of these grasslands have been converted to shrubland, barren ground, agriculture, or more of a semi-desert grassland.
Grasslands have rich soil developed over millennia and support abundant wildlife, which is why they were some of the first places to get seriously degraded when Europeans started settling the region. With quick money to be made, heavy stocking, especially during the end of the 1800s, decimated most grasslands in our region. Fertile topsoil quickly eroded away, leaving these lands unable to support the robust grassland community they once did.
Existing grasslands continue to bring a suite of species to our region that helps to increase our already high biodiversity.