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New Mexico State University

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Lake Lucero Tours Scheduled

LAS CRUCES--Monthly guided tours of Lake Lucero, the sources of the white gypsum sand that makes up White Sands National Monument, will begin Jan. 30 at 2 p.m.

National Park Service rangers will conduct tours monthly on Saturdays or Sundays. Tour dates include Feb. 28, March 27, April 24, May 22 and June 26, and tours take place at various times. The tours begin and end at White Sands Missile Range and take three to four hours.

"There is a lot of history involved in this tour and the site," said Mike Cook with New Mexico State University's Rural Economic Development Through Tourism (REDTT) project.

REDTT, a program of NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service, promotes agriculture through tourism.

The lake, which is very shallow and usually dry, once was a part of Lake Otero. It covered much of the Tularosa Basin 20,000 years ago. Gypsum-laden water, from the San Andres Mountains to the south, settles at the low point of the basin.

Lake Lucero is named for Jose and Felipe Lucero, who homesteaded the area in 1897 and eventually owned 20,000 acres of the land. "You can see the remains of their corrals and well," Cook said.

The cost of the tour is $3 for adults and $1.50 for children under 17. Participants drive their own vehicles 17 miles across the missile range to the start of the Lake Lucero trail, then hike three-quarters of a mile to the lake bed.

Still and video camera may not be used while tour participants are crossing the missile range, but pictures can be taken at the lake.

Reservations for Lake Lucero tours are required, and can be made up to two weeks in advance by calling (505) 479-6124 or 679-2599.

You can also contact REDTT at (505) 646-8009, or check out the project's web site at www.nmsu.edu/~redtt.