Otero County Seeks Help In Water Dispute

May 28, 2014

Officials in Otero County are reaching out to Congress for help as a battle between ranchers and the federal government continues over access to dwindling water supplies on national forest land.

Otero County commissioners have sent letters to New Mexico's congressional delegation and the chairmen of the House Natural Resources and Judiciary committees. They're asking that hearings be held to investigate the actions of the U.S. Forest Service and other federal agencies.

The commissioners say the federal government is trampling on people's water and property rights in New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Nevada and other western states.

Southwest Regional Forester Cal Joyner says the decision to close off the Agua Chiquita spring was made a decade ago and his office doesn't have authority to open the gate without another round of environmental reviews.

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