NMCGA Presidents Letter

by Pat Boone

New Mexico Cattle Grower’s Association President’s Message

Dear Fellow Members & Industry Supporters,

Fall is definitely in the air. Not only has the State Fair come and gone but the trees have started to change color and there’s a nip in the air. And in rural New Mexico the surest sign of fall is that everyone is either branding large calves or remnants, moving cattle to lower elevation pastures or shipping cattle, purchasing winter hay, selling calves, or simply canning food and chopping firewood before winter starts to settle in.

There are also some folks out there who are trying to play catch-up because they received several years of rain in a few short weeks, losing lots of infrastructure, crops and other things. I want you all to know we’re praying for you.

I hope everyone was able to take the time to comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and final revision of the 10(j) rule that proposes to expand and amend the Mexican wolf program in New Mexico and Arizona.

Normally, the DEIS comments are reviewed by the agency over several months while the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) is written to tell the public, and specifically ranchers and other natural resource users, how the selected alternative will impact their businesses and families for years to come. Anyway, that’s how the process is supposed to work.

It came to our attention, however, a day before the comment period closed, that the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) along with the Arizona Department of Fish and Game had decided to move forward with an unpublished plan which would allow for more than 300 wolves in Arizona and New Mexico. This “deal” not only circumvents the public process that is set out in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) but it also ensures that, if enacted, there will be renewed controversy and unwarranted economic impacts to our rural communities. NMCGA and a number of other organizations let the FWS Director know in no uncertain terms that it would be unadvisable to continue with the “deal” outside of the normal public process. Undoubtedly there will be more movement on this issue in the days to come.

Notwithstanding the apparent lack of transparency in the FWS process, I still believe that the importance of letting federal agencies understand how their proposed actions impact you cannot be overstated.

Such is the case with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)/US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) “Waters of the United States” proposed rule which closes on the 20th of this month. In short, the agencies are attempting to remove the word “navigable” from the Clean Water Act. By doing so, the EPA and USACE would greatly expand their jurisdictional authority by pulling in any ditch, acequia, stock pond, isolated wetland, arroyo or intermittent stream that have a nexus or adjacency to what historically have been considered navigable waters.

The proposed rule is an infringement on private property rights, creates uncertainty in carrying out everyday work activities, usurps states rights, lacks a valid scientific basis and directly contradicts Congressional actions that have refused to discard the word “navigable” from the Clean Water Act on two separate occasions. Please submit your comments identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880 by one of the following methods:

n Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

n Email: ow-docket@epa.gov. Include EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880 in the subject line of the message. Show citation box.

n Mail: Send the original and three copies of your comments to: Water Docket, Environmental Protection Agency, Mail Code 2822T, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20460, Attention: Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880.

Let these agencies know that this rule is an unconstitutional land grab that would severely hamper your ability to manage your business.

In closing, you should know that NMCGA along with various cattlemens’ associations, property rights groups, and others, have filed a legal action against the United States Department of Agriculture, of which the Forest Service is a part, on the issue of fencing riparian areas in the Lincoln and Santa Fe National Forests for the meadow jumping mouse without having completed a NEPA Environmental Assessment to support their actions, nor proposed actions. What we are saying is that before someone’s livelihood is jeopardized there needs to be science that is brought to bear justifying the action. A hearing on the matter should be scheduled soon.

Until next time, take comfort in your faith, family and friends.

José Varela López