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Tularosa Basin

Tularosa Basin, desert basin, c.6,500 sq mi (16,800 sq km), S N.Mex. and W Tex. From Texas east of El Paso the basin, an area of interior drainage, extends c.170 mi (275 km) to the north, and ranges c.25–60 mi (40–100 km) across between the Sierra Oscura, San Andres, and Organ mts. (W) and the Sacramento and Jicarilla mts. (E). The Malpais lava field is in the north of the basin, and the gypsum sand dunes of White Sands National Park (see National Parks and Monuments, table) are in the central basin, as is Holloman Air Force Base; much of the western basin is part of White Sands Missile Range and much of the southern section is included in Fort Bliss. Alamogordo is the largest city.

People of the Folsom culture occupied the area around Lake Lucero in White Sands National Park from about 9000 to 8000 BC, and the region subsequently was inhabited by various populations until it was deserted c.1350 following a major drought. When the Spanish arrived in the mid-17th cent., the ancestors of the Apache lived in surrounding mountainous areas, and Apache resistance delayed significant settlement until after the Civil War. Subsequent cattle ranching led to overgrazing, and the replacement of grasslands by desert shrubland.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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