Friday, April 08, 2011
To Graze or Not To Graze?
The Rio Arriba County Commission voted to declare a state of emergency on behalf of local ranchers after the federal Forest Service threatened to delay the start of cattle grazing season on public lands. Several stockmen spoke to the Commission at a meeting March 31 and said due to persistent, drought-like conditions in the region, district rangers in the Santa Fe and Carson National Forests were going to push back the date ranchers are permitted to release their cattle onto public grazing lands. Dennis Gallegos, whose cattle graze on the Polvadera allotment in the Santa Fe National Forest, stood before the Commission the day before his permitted release date and said he was willing to force a confrontation with the Service, though he had been told not to release his cows yet. Then he called upon the commissioners to support him. “I’m willing to turn the cattle out tomorrow if the County’s willing to challenge (the Service’s) authority,” Gallegos said. “I’m willing to start the brawl.“ Carlos Salazar, president of the Northern New Mexico Stockman’s Association, also spoke at the meeting and said he hoped the Commission and the sheriff would support Gallegos if he defied the Service...more