Federal Grazing Lands
Range and forest lands constitute a significant portion of New Mexico’s 78 million-acre land base, with federal agencies controlling approximately 34 percent of the land mass of New Mexico. State trust and private land intermingle with federal land, resulting in a mosaic of ownership that complicates rangeland management. A single ranch often contains private, state trust, and federal land – each with its own set of requirements, leases, permits, and administrators. The predominance of non-private grazing lands, public rangeland laws and regulations, and executive and judicial orders and decisions have transformed the regulatory environment in which livestock producers operate, affecting the stability of New Mexico’s livestock industry.
NMDA cooperates with ranchers, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, and other agencies to address problems that occur due to federal laws, such as the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act, with the goal of developing appropriate grazing strategies to protect the range while meeting the needs of the rancher. When drought, wildfire, or competition between wildlife and livestock temporarily reduces the forage available for consumption, livestock and wildlife numbers may need to be adjusted to allow the range to recover.
Defining the appropriate stewardship level requires cooperation by the rancher and perhaps several state and federal agencies. NMDA maintains a liaison with appropriate individuals and government agencies to enhance understanding and cooperation regarding mutual opportunities and challenges related to rangeland management in New Mexico.
The Public Rangelands Improvement Act requires federal agencies to consult, cooperate, and coordinate with grazing permittees and the state to develop allotment (range) management plans. NMDA provides technical expertise during this process.
Farm and Range Improvement Fund (FRIF)
NMDA works with county commissioners to expend funds derived from the state’s share of Taylor Grazing Act fees paid to U.S. Bureau of Land Management. These funds are returned to the state and distributed to the originating counties. The law defines six purposes for the funds relating to conservation of resources and infrastructure, which affect the livestock industry directly. NMDA provides a liaison between the director/secretary, appointed FRIF representatives in the counties and county commissioners.
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