Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Shots To Be Fired

The ongoing noise of gunfire on the Bureau of Land Management acreage near his ranch isn’t just a nuisance. Santa Fe County cattle rancher Jose Varela Lopez wonders what concentrating more of it just a few thousand feet from his ranch will do to the ability to use the land for anything but cattle ranching—and even that has seen its toll. “I’ve had a couple of animals that have been shot to death,” says Lopez, the 14th generation in his family to ranch on land southwest of Santa Fe. He stills runs a cow-calf operation with 15 mother cows. “It’s really heartbreaking when you see your animals out there that somebody used for target practice.” That includes Lopez, president of the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association, who spoke at a September meeting for the Game Commission, voicing concerns over the lack of a public process as the department advanced efforts to set up this facility. By that time, the state board had already done a biological evaluation and cultural resources inventory draft report and met with a contractor to map out a shooting range that would include areas for rifle and pistol shooting, shotguns and archery, as well as a hunter education center, a multipurpose building and a host area where RVs could park for overnight camping. “I’m just worried about cumulative effects of having so many people out there and actually drawing them out there,” Lopez tells SFR...more

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