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Rangeland and Grazing Lands

Rangeland in the state of New Mexico

Federal Grazing Lands

Range and forest lands constitute a significant portion of New Mexico’s 78 million-acre land base.  Federal agencies control 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.  Public rangeland laws and regulations, as well as executive and judicial orders and decisions regarding such lands, affect the livestock industry.  NMDA works cooperatively with affected parties to reach agreements that help stabilize the industry.

NMDA cooperates with ranchers; federal, state, and local agencies; and other stakeholders to address problems that occur due to federal laws.  The goal is to develop appropriate grazing strategies to protect the range while meeting the needs of ranchers.  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 from the rancher and perhaps several state and federal agencies.  NMDA maintains a liaison with appropriate individuals and government agencies.  This enhances 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.  New Mexico law directs these funds toward conservation and other measures that directly affect the livestock industry.  NMDA provides a liaison between the director/secretary, appointed FRIF representatives in the counties, and county commissioners.