Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Land Conservancy working for the future

A beautiful ranch east of Raton will remain in traditional agricultural use and at the same time continue to provide habitat for pronghorn, cougar, deer, and many other species thanks to conservation easements negotiated by the owner and the New Mexico Land Conservancy. The easements, completed in April 2016, apply on 3,560 acres of the larger Mesa Ranch. The ranch is managed for cattle grazing, but the landowner is committed to sustainable agricultural practices. The area under easement takes in sections of Johnson Mesa and Taylor Canyon, the landscapes including native grassland and areas populated by piƱon, juniper, ponderosa pine, oak, and Douglas-fir. The easements protect the land from development into the future. This is one of the most recent of nearly 80 projects under the conservancy’s belt. “We are the statewide land trust for New Mexico,” said executive director Scott Wilber. “We have over 160,000 acres conserved under easements. They have averaged 2,000 acres, but we have also done small agricultural easements like the one we did in the village of Corrales to support their farmland preservation program. That’s how I first met Sayre Gerhart, who is an architect from Corrales and our new board chair. We also try to preserve some of these big ranches. If I said we had any kind of specific orientation, I would say we’ve concentrated on ranchland protection in the last few years.” The New Mexico Land Conservancy (NMLC) has focused on the northeast and southwest portions of the state, partnering, for example, with the CS Ranch and Fort Union Ranch to protect private lands that will provide connectivity for wildlife habitat...more

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