New Mexico rancher, Adrian Sewell, says he will no longer take any notice of his grazing contract with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. –Kristian Foden-Vencil/OPB
A rancher from New Mexico signed a letter Saturday telling the federal government he will no longer honor his grazing contract.Armed protesters at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge had hoped more ranchers would step forward. But Adrian Sewell, who owns 160 acres in New Mexico, was the only one so far.
He bought his ranch four years ago for about $1 million. It included grazing rights to 33,000 acres of public land.
Sewell said his grazing contract allows for 140 head of cattle, but the U.S. Forest Service is restricting him to 85.
“And they’re telling me that because there’s endangered species over in (a) certain pasture,” Sewell said. “They won’t let me fix the fence, so they’re restricting me from what I already have in contract. They’re not even living up to their whole contract.”
This coming year, Sewell said he may put up to 200 cattle on the land.