Nick Ashcroft, Las Cruces, received the Bud’s Contract Award from the New Mexico Federal Lands Council (NM- FLC) during the Joint Stockmen’s Convention in early December in Albuquerque.
“By working with ranchers, and helping get accurate scientific information into the hands of the Forest Service and BLM, Nick has helped keep many New Mexico ranches in operation,” said Bebo Lee, NMFLC president, Alamogordo. “We appreciate his hard work and dedication, and are glad for this opportunity to say thank you.”
Ashcroft is a member of the Range Improvement Task Force (RITF), a team of scientists and specialists housed at New Mexico State University (NMSU) who work to ensure that land management agencies utilize accurate scientific information in their management decisions. Grazing is constantly under attack from groups and individuals who try to use agency regulations and the courts to force livestock from federal land, Lee noted.
NMFLC gives the Bud’s Contract award annually to an individual who has given of their time and effort to NMFLC. Past recipients include land management agency personnel, NMSU staff and others who have shown dedication to the grazing industry in New Mexico. The award, a bronze handshake, is given in memory of long-time NMFLC President Bud Eppers. This year’s award was presented by Jimmy R. Bason, Hillsboro.
Ashcroft has collected and analyzed data for Congress, specifically for Congressman Skeen, and in 2002, spent long hours crunching numbers when 130 grazing permits on the Santa Fe Forest were threatened with cuts in numbers that would have devastated those family operations, Lee explained.
“To do what they do, Task Force members have to have their heart in the work, and Nick is no exception,” Lee said. “Grazing is constantly under attack from groups and individuals who try to use agency regulations and the courts to force livestock from federal land. Nick and his team provide a permittee’s best defense—good, solid data—which the agencies often do not have.”
Ashcroft grew up on a farming and ranching operation near Bloomfield and started with a Beef Production degree and work experience that would lead him to a ranch management job. After receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural economics at NMSU, he joined RITF, then completed a doctoral degree in range science. — WLJ