Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Wednesday, August 06, 2014
Wild Earth Guardians buying grazing permits from ranchers in the Gila National Forest
Wild Earth Guardians, a regional nonprofit organization devoted to protecting and restoring wildlife and wild places in the west, has come up with a new proposal, and they claim, a possible solution to the long-standing confrontation between environmental groups and ranchers. Wild Earth Guardians is offering to buy back ranchers' grazing allotments in the Gila National Forest.
"This is a free-market approach that gives ranchers an alternative during challenging times," Bryan Bird, wild places program director for Wild Earth Guardians said. "We're trying to provide a viable opportunity for grazing permittees to voluntarily sell their permit." According to the Wild Earth Guardians, range capacity due to drought and wild life is rapidly changing in the Apache and Gila national forests. They say nearly 90 percent of the 4.2 million acres of forest service lands is currently authorized annually for grazing, but the numbers of cattle grazing that land are in decline. The Wild Earth Guardians claim that between 2003 and 2013, the number of individual permit holders decreased by 25 percent, family-owned corporations increased by 35 percent and non-family owned corporations increased from one to six. The program is still in its earliest stages of development. Started this past spring, so far only one deal has been reached with a rancher in Catron County. But Bird said he has gotten expressions of interest from other ranchers. He thinks Wild Earth Guardians will get a greater response from the ranching community as word continues to get out about the conservationists' offer.
Caren Cowan, executive director of the New Mexico Cattle Growers' Association, disagrees that this is a positive approach to a long-standing problem. Cowan calls the Wild Earth Guardians' claims "disingenuous."
"Ranchers are being challenged because of Wild Earth Guardians and other people like them," Cowan said.
Cowan claims that ranchers are struggling, not because of drought, but because of the regulations that she says come from the Forest Service as a result of litigation brought by the Wild Earth Guardians. Cowan said the litigation is aimed at getting animals added onto the endangered species' list...more