USA designates Roswell Artesian Wetlands in New Mexico
The government of the United States has listed its 27th Wetland of International Importance, the Roswell Artesian Wetlands (Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge and Bottomless Lakes State Park). As summarized by Sophia Mendez, Ramsar's Regional Assistant Advisor for the Americas, the Roswell Artesian Wetlands Ramsar Site (917 ha; 33°27’N 104°23’W) consists of a series of springs, seeps and sinkhole lakes located along the Pecos River but largely fed by natural groundwater discharged from the Roswell Basin; its wetlands contain two distinct areas: Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge and Bottomless Lakes State Park.
The Ramsar Site supports a diverse collection of plants and animals including several endemic species such as the Roswell springsnail (Pyrgulopsis roswellensis), Koster's springsnail (Juturnia kosteri), and Noel's amphipod (Gammarus desperatus), as well as many migratory songbirds, waterfowl, and wading birds such as the Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis); and a large number of dragonflies and damselflies. The site enables a recreation and research activities such as swimming, hiking and wildlife observation; it also plays an important role in the hydrology of the Pecos River and is important economically for the communities living in Chavez County.
The site’s main threats include increased groundwater use and surface water diversion, changes in land use towards urbanization, and presence of invasive species like the saltcedar (Tamarix chinensis). Both areas in the Roswell Artesian Wetlands Ramsar Site are designated as a National Natural Landmark and a Research Natural Area and their respective management plans serve as a tool to provide direction for its management.