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by Bert Ancell

New Mexico Cattle Grower's Association President's Message

Dear Fellow Members & Industry Supporters,

What a wonderful spring it’s been with cooler temperatures and frequent precipitation. We’re making a huge dent in the drought impacts we’ve experienced over the past several years and for the first time in a long time are heading into summer with the prospect of abundant forage to produce some heavy and happy cattle.

But while the drought appears to be waning, the “fourth branch” of the federal government, unelected agency bureaucrats, are acting like the running of the bulls at Pamplona, trampling over anything in their path. A case in point would be the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) Final Rule. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers proposed the WOTUS Rule ostensibly for the purposes of clarifying the Clean Water Act. The EPA has gone down this trail before and has been turned back by the U.S. Supreme Court on more than one occasion.

This time around, the EPA as the lead agency received over one million public comments which they are required to read and consider in finalizing the proposed rule. It is clear, however, that the Final Rule dismissed the concerns of agricultural interests whose concerns included the unilateral stripping of private property rights by adding millions of acres of land and many hundreds of thousands of stream miles to the federal jurisdiction. Even more egregious though is the fact that the EPA was not content to impartially educate the public on the merits of their proposed rule, but actually implemented a lobbying campaign through social media which promoted their regulatory expansionist agenda. Look for private property owners to share their concerns with some of the other branches of the federal government in short order.

Another case of agency activism is happening right here at home with the National Park Service (NPS), which will take over management of the Valles Caldera National Preserve in the Jemez Mountains of northern New Mexico on October 1st of this year.

Three “listening sessions” were held recently in Albuquerque, Jemez Springs and Los Alamos to record “stakeholder” suggestions for the future management of the Preserve. At the Jemez Springs meeting it became abundantly clear that the overwhelming majority of stakeholders in this process were urban recreationalists which I assume was the case in the other two sessions. The NPS was asked on several occasions during this process to hold other listening sessions in the more traditional communities such as Cuba and Abiquiu, which lie to the west and north of the Preserve, to record the thoughts of the rural land based people. They declined, and the reason is that traditional land uses are not part of their future planning goals.

The NPS was asked several questions from the handful of ranchers at the Jemez Springs meeting pertaining to renewable resource use. One rancher stated that “The Valles Caldera National Preserve and Trust recognized the importance of the land over many generations for domestic livestock production and timber supply. The purposes for which the Preserve was established included multiple use and sustained yield of renewable resources to benefit local communities and small business”. He then asked “. . . will the NPS honor these commitments to the local communities that were made when the Preserve was created?” It turns out that the NPS doesn’t manage resources as an economic driver but manages for ecological purposes. If that preservationist mentality wasn’t clear enough, their handout states “Grazing of livestock shall continue to the extent the use furthers scientific research or interpretation of the ranching history of the Preserve.” The current removal of pasture fencing has nothing to do with the pending change in management of the Preserve and is only being undertaken because they impede the movement of elk on the 89,000 acre property. At least that’s what the Federales say.

Let’s look forward to a great summer and God’s continued blessings!

Hasta pronto,

José Varela López