County officials in New Mexico have told the U.S. Forest Service that gates need to be unlocked at a mountain riparian area that is within the Lincoln National Forest so cattle can reach the water in the drought stricken state.
On Monday, the Otero County Commission voted to seek a court order so that four gates that are currently locked should be opened at the Agua Chiquita riparian area. According to The Alamogordo Daily News ranchers became upset with the Forest Service after the government organization fenced cattle out of a nearby water hole.
"Fencing our cattle off of the water denies us our usage rights, and the cattle are only there three months in a normal rain year and six months during times of drought," rancher Judyann Holcomb Medeiros said during the meeting. "During the drought, our cattle have to walk extended lengths to reach water. The fences also causes the cattle to use the heavily used county road, and we have had cattle hit and killed or severely crippled or damaged by the impacts."
The Forest Service has said that the fencing is necessary to allow multiple uses of the land while also protecting endangered species. Earlier in April the county commission sent a letter to the Forest Service that ordered fencing work stop.