Farmington rancher honored for landscape restoration efforts

Feb 10, 2012
by WLJ

Farmington-area rancher Pat Montoya was presented with the 2011 Restore New Mexico Award in early December at the New Mexico Joint Stockman’s Convention in Albuquerque for his work to improve range conditions on his ranch and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) public land allotments. Acting BLM State Director Tim Murphy presented the annual award.

Montoya has been an active rancher for almost 60 years. He has also been a partner in the Restore New Mexico initiative since its origins in 2005, investing time, money and his own equipment in a variety of efforts to improve the land he grazes.

To date, Montoya has completed about 3,800 acres of sagebrush treatments and over 800 acres of greasewood removal on the Jaramillo Canyon and Mu oz grazing allotments through participation in the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program. He has also aggressively worked to combat noxious weeds and other invasive species on his ranch and public land allotments. The treated pastures have responded so well that they have become examples for rangeland health in the Farmington area.

Montoya’s livestock management techniques have complemented the vegetative treatments he’s conducted. He routinely rotates and rests his pastures and has developed new water catchment ponds that reduce the sediment load into the San Juan River and provide a vital resource for his livestock and area wildlife.

“It’s a pleasure to recognize Pat as the outstanding BLM public land permittee who has made a major contribution in restoring rangelands in New Mexico. Mr. Montoya exemplifies the trust, respect and common focus that are the foundation of the Restore New Mexico initiative. The BLM looks forward to continuing to work with Mr. Montoya and other partners to improve the quality of New Mexico landscapes,” said Murphy.

Since 2005, the Restore New Mexico initiative has had the goal of returning New Mexico’s landscapes to a healthy and productive condition through partnerships. As a result, almost 2 million acres of public and private land have been treated thus far, making the Restore NM initiative a model for rangeland conservation in the western U.S. Restore New Mexico partners include ranchers and other landowners, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, New Mexico State Land Office, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts, several Soil and Water Conservation Districts, New Mexico State University, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and BLM. — WLJ