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New Mexico’s rangeland worst in the nation

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Rangeland in New Mexico – the grasslands used by ranchers to graze their cattle – is the worst in the nation, according to the weekly federal Drought Monitor, released this morning. It’s a problem all across the West, but no one’s got it as bad as us:

On May 26, USDA reported that at least 40% of the rangeland and pastures were rated very poor to poor in five of the eleven Western States. New Mexico topped the list, with 91% of its rangeland and pastures rated very poor to poor, followed by Arizona (66%), Nevada (65%), California (55%), and Colorado (45%).

My colleague Leslie Linthicum, in last Sunday’s paper, showed us in practical terms what this means out on the ground:

Seeing mile after mile of graying pastures where even grama grass is suffering mightily is cause for worry.

“There’s no green or new grass growing,” New Mexico State University range expert Nick Ashcroft told me when I called him to talk about the state of our blue grama.




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