Environment •  Southwest and Photography

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Otero Mesa: Preserving America's Wildest Grassland

Gregory McNamee
Photographs by Stephen Strom
Photographs by Stephen Capra

Full-color images by renowned photographers Stephen Strom and Stephen Capra unite with text by prizewinning nature and geography writer Gregory McNamee to document the subtle landscape of 1.2 million acres of remote Chihuahuan Desert grassland in southern New Mexico. Home to many species of wildlife and native plants, Otero Mesa is a place of extraordinary beauty and ecological significance faced with the increasing threat of oil and gas development that has plagued the Rocky Mountain West.
"It is a strange and empty place, a place whose contours suggest that those who do not know it are best to leave it alone, as those who do know it will do in all events. And, as with all strange and empty places in this increasingly crowded, increasingly monocultural world, Otero Mesa is an important island in our geography of hope, a place that warrants concern and protection. Rightly, for it is very much under threat."--Gregory McNamee in Otero Mesa


Stephen Strom has spent nearly forty years as a research astronomer, most recently serving on the staff of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson. His photographs have been widely exhibited, and he has collaborated on several books, including Tseyi (Deep in the Rock): Reflections on Canyon de Chelly, coauthored with Navajo poet Laura Tohe.

Following a career in private industry and journalism, Stephen Capra has worked for wilderness conservation since 1988. He has been executive director of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance since 2004.

Gregory McNamee is a widely published author, editor, and photographer who lives in Tucson, Arizona.

Bill Richardson is the governor of New Mexico and served as the U. S. Ambassador to the United Nations in 1997.


"This seminal work of meticulous scholarship brings to light the vast beauty of Otero Mesa and its alarming present day reality....A clarion call, "Otero Mesa" is urgently recommended for all personal, community, and academic library Environmental Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists."


Midwest Book Review

"Strom's and Capra's photos illustrate the incredible wealth of life and wildness on Otero from thunderstorms during the monsoon season to the intricate geometry of a Parry's agave. The illustrate the wide-ranging colors and textures of the landscape, giving it a rich depth that might surprise people who look at the stark mesa and think nothing is there."


Santa Fe New Mexican

" Otero Mesa captures in prose and photos the stark and fragile beauty of this threatened expanse of land and its resident species."


Las Cruces Sun-News

"In lovely photographs and smart writing, this book makes the case for preserving Otero Mesa against the chants of 'drill, drill, drill.'"


Su Casa Magazine

"...finely written and beautifully photographed..."


New Mexico Magazine

"...emotional, beautiful, and convincing..."


Tucson Weekly

"This beautifully produced publication gives readers an opportunity to see what is at stake in the effort to preserve Otero Mesa's integrity."


La Herencia

"McNamee provides a highly personal view of the importance of grasslands in general, and of this grassland in particular, to sustaining a healthy world, and describes the threat posed by oil and gas extraction. Stunning color photographs by Strom and Capra underscore McNamee's point, showing both the stark grandeur of sweeping landscapes and the delicate beauty of the smallest wildflowers."


The Journal of Arizona History

10 x 9 in. 104 pages 41 color plates