NM Water Protections On Hold

New Mexico – A group of New Mexico ranchers is challenging a sweeping designation that guarantees special protection for hundreds of miles of rivers and streams, more than two dozen lakes and thousands of acres of wetlands in wilderness areas across the state.

The New Mexico Cattle Growers' Association says the so-called "outstanding waters" designation is too broad and could result in lawsuits over grazing on public forest lands.

Conservationists say they're worried because they see the move as another attack against rules recently approved by state regulators that aim to protect New Mexico's limited water resources.

Also at issue are discharge rules for the dairy industry.

The dairy regulations are on hold while Gov. Susana Martinez's administration reviews all pending and proposed rules to ensure they don't harm businesses or job growth.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.