EcoFlight: Protecting the Upper Pecos Watershed from the Skies

By Jane Pargiter, EcoFlight Executive Director, and Amanda Grimsted, EcoFlight Director of Communications (Guest Contributors)
Photos by EcoFlight

What a beautiful day to see the Pecos from above!

The Pecos River flows from the Pecos Wilderness in north-central New Mexico to Texas, meandering through granite canyons and high-alpine ecosystems. Our overflight examined the gorgeous Upper Pecos Watershed, which supports diverse flora, fauna, and recreational opportunities. While the Pecos River flows for 20 miles, protected under a Wild & Scenic designation, to the community of Terrero, a six-mile stretch of the river south of Terrero is under immediate threat. The proposed Terrero Mine threatens the diverse values of the Upper Pecos Watershed. The Australian company wishes to move ahead with an exploratory phase, drilling up to 30 deep holes to determine if the site is viable for a full-blown mine. This exploration could contaminate the Pecos River, harming fish, wildlife, and the humans who live nearby. The region has a legacy of historic mining that polluted the fragile ecosystem. In the 1990s irresponsible mining killed over 90,000 fish and cost taxpayers millions in restoration efforts.

EcoFlight’s partners, including New Mexico Wild and the Stop Tererro Mine Coalition, are working to ensure degradative mining doesn’t further harm the sacred river, wildlife, and the communities that rely on the Pecos River. New Mexico Wild is working to secure protection for the Upper Pecos Watershed through a Wilderness Area designation. Support is growing for SB3033 which would ban mining over 163,000 acres in the Upper Pecos Watershed and would designate the proposed 11,099 acre Thompson Peak Wilderness Area. The mineral withdrawal and wilderness designation would help safeguard the beauty and wonder of the area against irresponsible mining projects like the Terrero Mine.

About EcoFlight

“EcoFlight’s Mission is to educate and advocate for the protection of remaining wild lands and wildlife habitat using small aircraft. The aerial perspective and our educational programs encourage an environmental stewardship ethic among citizens of all ages.

EcoFlight’s call to action is to work with all sides of an issue, the plane providing a platform for conversation to happen in order to find solutions. The aerial perspective and our ability to connect people can be used to help build bridges between current conflicting viewpoints, and a way to help Americans find common ground, bringing tribes, partisan alliances, and faith-based groups together.” Learn more about EcoFlight’s work at