By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
New Mexico Cattle Growers Associations President Tom Sidwell addressed Quay County commissioners about the possible dangers that could affect local ranchers stemming from public land issues like the Oregon standoff.
“I don’t think anything will happen in this part of the state but it is best to be vigilant,” Sidwell said.
Sidwell, a Quay County cattle grower, gave a presentation about an onlinecall for people to kill “public welfare cows and ranchers” on public land to commissioners during Monday’s regular meeting.
Sidwell said a lot of emotions are running high in light of what happened in Oregon.
In January, armed Oregon ranchers led by Ammon Bundy seized and occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge a federal refuge located in eastern Oregon. The group forced a standoff with the Bureau of Land Management over federally owned land. The group ripped up its federal grazing contracts in a move signaling its repudiation of the federal government’s role in land management.
During the week-long occupation, New Mexico rancher, Adrian Sewell, from Grants County, renounced his contract with the U.S. Forest Service.
The standoff ended shortly after Bundy was arrested and fellow protester LaVoy Finicum was killed in a shootout with state and local police. Bundy’s brother, Ryan, was also wounded in the shootout, after he and Finicum refused to surrender.
Sidwell said there is a lot of anger and frustration with the over reach of the federal government. He said there are better ways to try and correct federal over reach.
“Shooting ranchers and their cattle is the wrong way to address the issue,” Sidwell said. “People can not get emotional or hot headed when working towards a resolution.”
Sidwell said the chances of this kind of rash action occurring in this part of the state is low. However, there is something suspect about the timing of the online call to kill and the deaths of two cows and three horses near Magdalena.
Sidwell said ranchers and farmers in this part of the state are no strangers to federal over reach. He said this includes the dealings with the lesser prairie chicken and Mexican gray wolves.
“There are more sensible ways of addressing and resolving federal over reach,” Sidwell said. “Possibly the transfer of public land management from federal control to state control.”
“It is nice to have someone come before the commission to explain issues like this,” said Sue Dowell, District 1 commissioner.
In other business, commissioners:
• Approved the 2016-2017 DWI Grant/Distribution funding application for $161,043 to operate the county’s compliance and prevention programs.
• Approved a sheriff’s office application for the Law Enforcement Protection Fund.
• Approved the 2016-2017 CAP, Co-op and School Bus projects for the Quay County Road Department.
• Declared older Quay County Fire and Road Department vehicles obsolete, allowing them to put up for auction.
• Declined to waive the rental fee of the Quay County Fair Barn to organizers of the 2016 Rockabilly on the Route.
• Changed the dates of upcoming meeting: March 14 to March 10, April 25 to April 23 and, Sept. 26 to Sept. 23.
• Held a closed executive session to discuss the purchase, acquisition or disposal of real property or water rights. No action was taken.