Nov 02 2016

So I was confused …

by Caren Cowan, Executive Director,
New Mexico Cattle Grower’s Association
Read this article & more in New Mexico Stockman Magazine

Last month I wrote about an amicus brief that had been filed by Robert Redford and former Governor Bill Richardson and their Foundation to Protect New Mexico Wildlife in a Mexican wolf case. As some of you with better reading comprehension than I had at last month’s writing, the case they have filed a brief in is the one between the New Mexico Department of Game & Fish (NMDGF) and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS). In this case the Department requested and received a temporary restraining order to prohibit the FWS releasing any more wolves in New Mexico without proper consultation with the NMDGF. This ruling was made in New Mexico Federal District Court.

This Foundation and the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) have filed with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to have the restraining order released. One case explained…

There have been two cases before the Federal District Court in Arizona, which is attached to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The earlier of those cases was filed by the CBD demanding that the FWS produce a new recovery plan for the Mexican wolf. Several agriculture groups intervened in that case. The New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA) did not participate in that case because, quite frankly, the Association agrees that there should be a recovery plan in place. NMCGA members and staff have spent countless hours over the past 10 or 15 years working on a new recovery plan. Thus far these plans have failed to come to fruition.

In early October, the CBD sent out a press release claiming victory in their recovery plan case. This was old news and much ado about nothing… except money.

It was announced at the November 2015 New Mexico State Game Commission Meeting by Michael Phillips with the Turner Foundation that the FWS recovery planning would be starting in December 15… nearly a year before the court’s ruling to force the planning. The news that Montana State Senator Phillips didn’t have a year ago was that the court would award the radicals around $50,000 from the Equal Access to Justice (EAJA) Fund.

There is no telling what path the recovery planning is taking. Upon learning that planning was commencing again, we contacted the FWS about when the “stakeholders” would become involved.  Here is the response:

“We are convening a small handful of scientists and state reps from Arizona Game and Fish Department, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, SEMARNAT and CONANP (federal agencies in Mexico), and FWS in December for a workshop to look at technical information related to revising the 1982 Mexican wolf recovery plan. We plan to hold three such workshops over the winter/spring. FWS plans to have a completed revised recovery plan by the end of 2017. We have not made final decisions regarding the role of the entire recovery team in the development of the plan. At this point, we are focusing on assessing best available science in close coordination with the state agencies and Mexico.”

We have heard nary a peep out of them since. I can tell you that the last open recovery planning process hit a brick wall because the “science team” came out with proposals that the “stakeholder team” couldn’t and wouldn’t agree to. The “scientists” wanted to call all the planning shots and then have the “stakeholders” figure out how to implement it.

There is still a wolf case pending in the Arizona Federal District Court that NMCGA and many others filed challenging the rule revision that took place in 2014-2015. That case has had numerous interveners for and against. Because of all those interveners, it could be this time next year before we hear anything out of the court.

Poking the Bear

Meanwhile back in reality land, wolves continue to cause huge economic harm to families, ranches and hunters across the country. Those suffering from wolves had an opportunity for the spotlight before U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight & Government Reform in late September. New Mexico was blessed to have two voices at the table, Alexa Sandoval, NMDGF Director and NMCGA member Tom Paterson. Both made New Mexico and New Mexicans proud.

The hearing was not without detractors, however. Ranking Minority member of the full House Natural Resources Raul Grijalva from Arizona is great at trying to torpedo witnesses by asking other witnesses to rip them up. It is worth remembering that Grijalva is from Nogales and has served on the CBD Board of Directors.

He took his shot at Tom and it hard not to have your blood pressure rise when that is happening to you. I have had first-hand experience.

But the point of the hearing never missed a step and continues to draw attention from many who wrote letters in support of people instead of wolves including this impressive list of groups who submitted testimony for the record:

Archery Trade Association

Association of Fish and Wildlife

Boone and Crockett Club

Catch a Dream Foundation

Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation

Council to Advance Hunting and the
Shooting Sports

Dallas Safari Club

Delta Waterfowl

Houston Safari Club

Masters of Foxhounds Association

Mule Deer Foundation

National Rifle Association

National Shooting Sports Foundation

National Trappers’ Association

National Wild Turkey Federation

Orion the Hunters’ Institute

Pheasants Forever

Professional Outfitters and Guides

Quail Forever

Quality Deer Management Association

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

Ruffed Grouse Society

Safari Club International

Shikar Safari Club

Sportsmen’s Alliance

Tread Lightly

Wild Sheep Foundation

Wildlife Forever

Whitetails Unlimited

All of this attention apparently didn’t sit well with Mr. Grijalva who recently created his own news story bemoaning the “‘Republican Mythology’ About Endangered Wolf Management.” According to that well-known news outlet, he wants to change the focus of the conversation.

There must have been an unknown planet dropped in those 69.4 miles between Tombstone and Nogales.

Declaring Victory!

The NMCGA, the New Mexico Wool Growers, Inc., the New Mexico Federal Lands Council, along with Catron, Hidalgo, Luna, Quay, Colfax Counties, Tom Sidwell and the Acequia de La Isla have settled their protests with the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) in a most satisfactory manner.

The story is a long one that shouldn’t be told until all of the final paperwork has been signed and the protests withdrawn. The short story is that the ISC agreed that it would apply for only a four-mile stretch below the Ute Reservoir (I learned in this process that it isn’t a lake) for up to 5cfs. The Commission itself passed a resolution at their October meeting agreeing to these limits and agreeing that in the future any such applications will be brought to the affected public before the application is filed.


This concept is apparently in the eye of the beholder for some people. In early October U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop, Utah, held a field hearing on Tribal Prosperity & Self-Determination through Energy Development in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The hearing was small, but the testimony provided by five tribes from the West, including Alaska, full of impact. The stories they told were no different from those we hear from families and communities across the West who are seeking that the federal government cede control of federal lands to the states.

Federal management on reservations and pueblos is killing economic growth and prosperity. Poor management of resources is harming the resources. The Indian people are not allowed to take care of themselves.

This isn’t a hard concept to grasp when you consider that the reservation system was the first grand experiment in welfare.

But the anti’s never let an opportunity pass to make fools of themselves. As we entered the Roundhouse where the hearing was held, there was a small group of multi-cultural individuals holding a protest against fracking. There probably weren’t a dozen of them. After the hearing commenced those folks began to filter into the hearing room.

It wasn’t long before two apparently Anglo women, one of the carrying a baby in a pack, stepped in front of the committee rail with a big vinyl sign against fracking. They were politely asked to sit down several times. Eventually the State Policeman at the back of the room was asked to resolve the situation. After some time and the threat of calling additional State Police, the women finally sat down. The woman with the baby maintained defiant eye contact with the trooper during the entire confrontation.

Chairman Bishop thanked the State Police for the calm handling of the manner deficient (his words) women and the hearing proceeded. It was long before an elderly Anglo couple got up with another, smaller sign. We went through the same drill, except the man wasn’t willing to challenge the police for so long.

Immediately after the hearing all of them jumped up again with signs with several of their friends taking pictures. An elderly Indian man got up with them and stated that he was exercising his right to free speech. I didn’t listen to any more.

The room cleared of those who came to be a part of or to listen to the hearing with those folks still in the front talking to themselves.

You didn’t see any of this in the media anywhere. I guess the hearing was videoed and is online if anyone cares to see it.

It never ceases to amaze me how a chosen few seem to think that they have the right to impose their will on others. The concept of minding your own business is long gone.

Changes USDA Conservation Easement Program

Fewer acres will be purchased as easements to protect wetlands and other sensitive lands under the new Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), which is replacing three programs repealed by the 2014 farm bill, according to an AgriPulse story by Stephen Davies.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) published its final rule for ACEP in the Federal Register in mid October. ACEP combines provisions of the Wetlands Reserve Program, Grassland Reserve Program and Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP), all of which were discontinued by the 2014 legislation.

About half the amount of money will be available to buy easements, NRCS said in its final rule. Where WRP, GRP, and FRPP received $691 million per year from 2009-2013, ACEP will receive about $368 million annually.

The amount of funding available and the increase in per-acre costs will result in a corresponding decrease in acreage enrolled under ACEP, NRCS said. From 2009 to 2013, approximately 1.7 million acres were enrolled under WRP, GRP and FRPP – an average of 340,000 acres per year.

But from 2014 to 2018, NRCS projects enrollment of 149,000 acres per year, for a total of about 746,000 acres. Most of that acreage – about 522,000 acres – would be enrolled under the new ACEP-Wetlands Reserve Easement program, with the rest enrolled under the ACEP-Agricultural Land Easement program.

NRCS said in the rule that the increased per-acre cost “is due in part to rising land values and in part to the projected enrollment shares in ACEP.”

Are YOU Registered Yet?

Better get your registration for the 2016 Joint Stockmen’s Convention slated for December 1 through 4 at the Crowne Plaza in Albuquerque in quick. The Early Bird Deadline is November 21 and rooms at the Crowne are going fast!  You  can now register online at       

Source: New Mexico Stockman, November 2016