Time to find a balance between recreation and ranching
lands manager, Cooper Cattle Co., Minden, Nev.
The Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument contains over 496,000 acres of federal land and almost 600,000 acres when combined with state and private lands engulfed within the monument boundary.
There are 41 grazing allotments that are partially in the boundary, or like ours, wholly in the boundary. Within the allotments, there are multiple uses administered by the Bureau of Land Management and there is no other entity except for ranchers that manage that land. Together, the total land, within and adjacent to the boundary managed by the allotment owners is over 1 million acres, not quite the size of Delaware, but close. We manage 69 square miles of the 1,200 square miles these 40 allotment holders do within Dona Ana and Luna Counties-Delaware is about 1,300.
The designation by President Barack Obama did not respect our rights, the state’s rights, nor did he consider the smallest amount of land possible in order to protect the antiquities identified within the monument. Please reduce the boundaries of the OMDPNM. The federal lands we manage are open to anyone as they were before the monument proclamation.
Advice for the public when visiting our public lands — just close the gate behind you, where possible don’t drive off road, don’t leave anything behind and don’t take anything from the land if you’re not authorized. Enjoy the beauty, hike it, ride in it and simply respect the cattle grazing and the rancher that is taking care of the land day-to-day, keeping roads clear and maintaining water resources and improving rangeland health.
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Don’t let the restrictions that come with this land designation and the wilderness designations that could follow take away this time-tested and noble heritage. There are lands in the highest elevations that deserve some higher level of protection, but not the large areas of desert grasses, mesquite, cactii and yuccas. It is the highest and best use of these desert grasslands while providing a sustained yield. That’s right, producing nutritional food, protein and fiber for America and her people. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and President Donald Trump, stand up for our rights too. Reduce the monument boundary. It is the right thing to do. Our voices were ignored with President Obama as were many in Utah. Hear our plea. ❖
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