A battle that started over access to a spring in the mountains of southern New Mexico could end up expanding to other areas of this drought-stricken state if federal land managers are forced to fence off more sources of water to protect a rare mouse.
U.S. Forest Service Regional Forester Cal Joyner is trying to get forest managers and ranchers talking, but he concedes tensions could grow if more pressure is put on the region's dwindling water resources.
Officials with the Lincoln, Santa Fe and Carson forests have sent letters to all ranchers who graze on forest land, warning of less forage and water this season.
Ranchers say they see moves to limit access to water and shorten the grazing season as efforts to permanently push them off the land.
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