Lordsburg Playa

Dust Mitigation Project


High Desert Native Plants, in collaboration with teams of experts and the New Mexico Department of Transportation, tackles hazardous conditions along Interstate 10.

Background: In the late 1880s, Lordsburg, New Mexico, boasted a flourishing landscape with abundant grasslands, providing sustenance for settlers’ livestock. However, by 2015, overgrazing had stripped the land bare, leading to hazardous dust storms along Interstate 10 and causing numerous fatalities. The New Mexico Department of Transportation sought a sustainable solution to the escalating dust problem.


Dust storms along a 20-mile stretch of Interstate 10 posed a severe threat to public safety, with over 40 fatalities recorded since 1965. Traditional approaches proved insufficient, prompting a critical need for innovative solutions to mitigate the dust and restore ecological balance to the region.


High Desert Native Plants played a significant role alongside other expert teams in transforming the hazardous conditions of Lordsburg Playa. Collaborating with the New Mexico Department of Transportation, we embarked on an ambitious watershed restoration project. The comprehensive strategy involved recontouring drainages, sowing native grass seeds, imprinting the soil, and implementing cattle exclusion from treated areas with strategically placed fencing. 


Over a multi-year period, High Desert’s partnership helped to rehabilitate the watershed surrounding Lordsburg Playa. Native grass seeds were carefully chosen for their resilience in the arid environment, and soil imprinting techniques were applied to enhance water retention and encourage plant growth. Strategic placement of fences addressed cattle management concerns, preventing overgrazing and further environmental degradation.

Results and Ongoing Progress

High Desert’s part in the watershed restoration efforts clearly yielded the expected results. The reinvigorated grasslands act as a natural dust suppressant, yet further progress is needed to fully realize the goal of saving lives through watershed restoration in the Lordsburg Playa. Through our commitment continue their efforts to build upon the successes achieved thus far.

This photo demonstrates the lasting impression made by the imprinter.  Within the center of the small imprint lie seed and mulch, where these ingredients will come together with water and soil, some time from now, and sprout, when the time is right.  This is repeated hundreds of thousands of times over the treated landscape.


This ongoing case study highlights the transformative potential of watershed restoration in addressing complex environmental challenges. Our work and dedication not only improves highway safety but also underscores the importance of sustained efforts in restoring and preserving natural landscapes. The evolving success of this initiative serves for future endeavors, emphasizing the significance of ongoing collaboration to achieve lasting impact in the Lordsburg Playa region.

Data and Resources

K.I.S Method Slidedeck

Discover the K.I.S Method: Keyline plowing, Imprinting, and Seeding. Transforming degraded landscapes with precision contouring, efficient water utilization, and strategic vegetation growth.

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Weather Stations

View real time data from installed weather stations at the Lordsburg Playa, NM.

View Data Resource