NMCGA Presidents Letter

by Pat Boone

New Mexico Cattle Grower’s Association President’s Message

Dear Fellow Members & Industry Supporters,

It seems that government overreach has been in the news a lot lately on the national stage. Unfortunately, New Mexico took to that stage in May when President Obama, at the request of our US Senators, utilized the Antiquities Act and his pen to place a national monument designation on nearly half a million acres in Doña Ana County. While national monuments are not a bad thing the way this one came to be certainly was.

This monument designation is troublesome on many levels, not the least of which was the unilateral heavy handed action by Washington that subverted the legislative process which could have addressed the informed input of local stakeholders. Instead, the national monument designation ignored those opinions in favor of the environmental activist wish list. To say that this designation was an “in your face” affront to the traditional land managers of the county would be an understatement.

Additionally, the Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument is inconsistent with the Antiquities Act which calls for designating the “smallest compatible area” in creating a monument.  The Organ Mountains Desert Peaks is actually more than five disparate areas in Doña Ana County which in my opinion should have been considered separately.  The only thing these different land masses have in common is that they collectively stand to negatively impact local law enforcement, border security, watershed management and recreational access in those areas. There are also close to 100 longstanding ranching families whose lands and livelihoods, customs and culture, will be irreparably compromised in a taking of their property and rights by the federal government. Their losses alone heavily outweigh the purported revenues associated with increased tourism resulting from the national monument designation.

Hopefully, the management planning process to be undertaken by the Bureau of Land Management for the national monument will provide the opportunity for the citizens of Doña Ana County to provide the input they have been denied thus far. I would also hope that the process would merit an Environmental Impact Statement, given the major issues which need to be fully addressed, instead of an Environmental Assessment such as what is being undertaken on the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in northern New Mexico and is a less thorough process.  If you’re prone to self-aggravation, as I frequently am, you might want to read the scoping report summarizing public comments received about how the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument should be managed. Many of the comments pertain to issues which have absolutely nothing to do with the management of a national monument, which once again proves that a legislative process is more responsible than environmental activism.

In another case of governmental overreach the United States Forest Service in the Sacramento Ranger District of the Lincoln National Forest has decided to fence off an area of stream which has historically served as a watering place for cattle. The fencing project, which still allows for access to deer and elk is ostensibly meant to both create and protect habitat for the New Mexico Meadow Jumping Mouse. As of this writing the mouse species in question has neither been listed as a threatened nor endangered species, nor does it have any designated critical habitat. What’s even worse, the forest service is preventing the allotment owner from legally accessing their private water right, and is using that water for their own purposes, and illegally, in my opinion.

On a much more positive note, I wanted to let you know that Emily Ferranti of Datil, and recent recipient of a Young Cattlemen’s scholarship, has just completed her freshman year at Oklahoma State University. Emily is studying Animal Science, making the President’s Honor Roll by maintaining a 4.0 GPA during her first two semesters of study.

In closing, I hope that the Good Lord continues to provide us not with what we want, but with what we need, and that includes rain.

Until next time . . .

José Varela López