Managing New Mexico rangelands for sustained use through the 21st century

TitleManaging New Mexico rangelands for sustained use through the 21st century
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Publication1993
AuthorsHavstad K, Fowler J.M.
Conference NameJournal of Proceedings: New Mexico Conference on the Environment
Date Published1993
AbstractNew Mexico is rangeland state. Typically viewed as desert or wasteland, it is more accurate to describe the state as primarily a type of land that grows a wide variety of native shrubs and herbaceous vegetation. New Mexico is characterized by climatic and physical limitations (such as peiodic drought and low soil fertility). and has had an extensive history of grazing use by native herbivores. These rangelands generally deteriorated during the latter part of the 19th century. Users of these natural resources frequently misjudged or failed to recognize resource limitiations, which are more severe than for rangelands of the midwest or pastures of the southern and eastern U. S. Resource conditions have improved during the 20th century, but debates over conflicting uses of New Mexico ranelands have grown contentious. At the center of this conflict is the traditional use of rangeland for production of livestock, an annual one billion dollar industry within the state. Yet, livestock grazing is frequently perceived as a nonsustainable use. For example, a common perception is that improved resource conditions have typically been achieved by repeated uses of herb-icides to control unwanted shurbs that are a result of overgrazing. This view has som validity. However, natural resource conser-vation requires active management. Our environment is changing due to both natural causes and human-induced impacts. We have to be involved in resource management bother to mitigate our impacts and sustain renewable resources. Other than federal and state government agencies, the primary managers of New Mexico's natural rangeland resources are the graziers. Unless the New Mexico populace is willing to substanitally increase government involve-ment in land stweardship, an involement which would primarily be fundedat the state level, the livestock idunstry must continue to be looked to for management not only of forage for domestic animals, but wildlife habitats, waterhseds and various other natural resources. Principles of livestock management exist, and when applied these principles can guide sustained productions form rangelands and conservations of renewable resources. The public should (1) direct development of appropriate incentives that reward progressive management, and (2) establish common resource objectives for the good of the entire state in partnership with the livestock industry. Through partnership with agriculturalists New Mexico can lead the West in attaining and practicing multiple use of its principle natural resources, its rangelands.