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Mescalero Apache Tribe

Mescalero Agency – BIA Branch of Natural Resources
P.O. Box 189, Mescalero, New Mexico  88340
Phone: (505) 464-4277
Fax: (505) 464-9122
Website: www.mescaleronet.com

Contact: Jennifer Smith, Wildlife Biologist

The Mescalero Apache Tribe is located in south-central New Mexico and is 460,661 acres in size. Elevations range from 5,400 to over 12,000 feet. The high mountains of the reservation are part of the Sacramento Mountain region and the majority of the land is covered with ponderosa pine, fir, spruce, aspen, white oak, pinyon, and juniper trees.

Mescalero tribal lands support five reservoirs that are managed as public recreation areas and another 14 smaller impoundments that are managed as "Tribal Waters" open only to tribal-member fishing. Mescalero Lake is the largest cold-water reservoir (110 acres) which lies within the Inn of the Mountain Gods resort area (a tribal enterprise). The Inn of the Mountain Gods resort manages the sale of fishing permits and coordinates stocking (rainbow and brown trout) and other fisheries management functions with BIA biologist.

Silver Lake (9 acres), Upper Eagle Lake (1 acre), Lower Eagle Lake (2 acres) and Ruidoso Creek (4 miles of stream on tribal lands) comprise the remaining recreational fishing areas open to non-tribal members. These four designated recreation areas provide fishing, camping and picnicking activities and are separately managed by the Tribe’s Parks & Recreation Department.

A collection of smaller impoundments on the Reservation are managed as cold-water fisheries that are open to tribal-members only and range in size between ¼ - 4 surface acres. South Tularosa Creek is also managed as a tribal-member only fishing area that encompasses 6 miles of stream on tribal lands.

The Mescalero Apache Tribe historically received all of its rainbow trout from the Mescalero National Fish Hatchery (NFH), prior to its closing by the USFWS in 2000. The Tribe continues to receive catchable brown trout for Mescalero Lake from the Alchesay-Williams Creek NFH Complex. However, since the closure of the Mescalero hatchery the Tribe has received a very small fraction of its historic stocking of catchable rainbow trout from the Alchesay-Williams Creek Complex and now, like many of the pueblo tribes in New Mexico, must purchase the balance of its rainbow trout needs from private sources.

In 2004, the SWTFC and Mescalero Apache Tribe started a pilot program to raise rainbow trout at the former Mescalero National Fish Hatchery. This program has alleviated some of the tribe’s fish needs but the hatchery is old and in need of some major repairs and improvements. The Mescalero Tribe is currently seeking economic development funds to renovate the hatchery, which will supply fish (mainly rainbow trout) to the Mescalero tribe as well as tribes and pueblos throughout the southwest.

According to BIA Biologists, the primary native fish management focus of the Mescalero Apache Tribe relates to populations of Rio Grande Cutthroat trout (RGCT) found in headwaters on tribal lands along the west slope of Sierra Blanca. Upper reaches of the Indian Creek watershed contain isolated populations of this native trout species which USFWS Biologists have confirmed to be of pure RGCT strain. Given the isolated nature of these headwaters, the Tribe has focused most of its management efforts in monitoring self-sustaining populations and associated habitats without having to initiate any extensive species recovery or restoration programs to date. Nevertheless, BIA Biologists have indicated the potential of developing a more comprehensive management program for the RGCT that may include propagating the species at the Mescalero hatchery facility once it becomes operational. To the extent that such efforts are deemed feasible and effective, the Tribe has identified the potential of dedicating a portion of the hatchery facility to propagating pure strain RGCT to support the both local and regional recovery/restoration programs dedicated to preserving this native trout species within portions of its historic range.

 

 

 

 

                            

Southwest Tribal Fisheries Commission    P.O. Box 190  Mescalero, New Mexico  88340  •  (575) 464-8768