NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Counties in southeastern New Mexico are upset about the future of the Lincoln National Forest. They say a new forest management plan will hurt local ranchers across Otero, Lincoln, Eddy and Chaves counties.

The plan from the U.S. Forest Service is not sitting well with some. “The USFS [U.S. Forest Service] has failed to coordinate with Chaves County and failed to allow Chaves County to have any meaningful involvement in the plan,” said Jeff Bilberry in a District 3 Chaves County Commission meeting last week.

Story continues below

Counties say the Forest Service is not including them in their talk to expand the forest, taking parts of the Chaves, Eddy, and Otero counties. According to county governments, the plan would take away land from ranchers. The purpose of the plan is to decrease fire threats by giving the Forest Service more access to roads in and out of the forest.

“Why do we have a forest supervisor if he can’t respond to the issues that are going on right now that we are facing in his region of the forest,” said Couy Griffin, District 2 Otero County commissioner.

Last week, both Otero and Chaves County passed resolutions to reject the plan in hopes that it might have the Forest Service reevaluate its options. Both counties claim that during the comment period, no one from the Forest Service spoke to provide input on the matter.

“Fact of the matter is, these federal agencies need to be coordinating with local governments and they don’t just show up with a plan and say here it is this is, this is what we are doing, and you guys just accept it and cooperate with us,” said Will Calvin, District 5 Chaves County commissioner.

The plan is meant to be completed in the next 10 years. KRQE News 13 reached out to the Forest Service but did not hear back.