There aren't many places left in America as isolated as the Otero Mesa, a desert grassland in south central New Mexico where hundreds of native wildlife species and plants thrive. But does this rugged landscape also hold the minerals we need to build the technology of the future?
The discovery of these minerals on Wind Mountain has ignited a new front in the campaign to get national monument designation for the Otero Mesa, which encompasses 1.2 million acres.
Rare earth elements are an essential in building technology we have become to rely on, including military hardware, iPhones and iPads, and green technology such as hybrid car batteries and wind turbines.
Its importance is helping rare earth mining companies gain support in the halls of Congress, but conservationists fear allowing any mining would forever transform the wild landscape of the Otero Mesa.