ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. Forest Service wants to put up fencing as soon as possible on a portion of the Santa Fe National Forest as protections take effect for an endangered mouse found in New Mexico and parts of Arizona and Colorado.
The agency said previously it had made no decisions regarding the fencing, but a letter received by ranchers Thursday details a plan to put off-limits 120 acres along the lower Rio Cebolla.
The fencing would keep livestock out and a closure order would prevent campers from pitching tents in the area.
The threat of fencing has drawn fire from ranchers in the drought-stricken states. They say cutting off water supplies to livestock and potential effects for downstream users could devastate some rural communities.
Some ranchers are headed to Washington, D.C., later this month for a congressional hearing on the matter.