BLM hosts auction for McGregor Range enhancing BLM, military, public partnership
LAS CRUCES, N.M. – On the west side of Otero Mesa, between Alamogordo, New Mexico and El Paso, Texas, lies McGregor Range and a one-of-a-kind grazing program made possible through a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) partnership with the Department of Defense, the public and coordinated resource management.
Managed by the Las Cruces District, McGregor Range is comprised of 606,000 acres of public land. It was set aside for the U.S. Army under the Military Lands Withdrawal Act of 1999. Used by Fort Bliss Army Base and Holloman Air Force Base for training purposes, the Range is jointly managed with the BLM for the resources outlined in the 2006 McGregor Range Resource Management Plan and a Memorandum of Understanding. The military has primary use, while BLM has secondary use of the Range resources, like the management of grazing.
Every year, the district offers several McGregor Range grazing units to the highest bidder to graze livestock. These units are highly sought after and generate significant revenue to maintain and enhance the Range productivity.
On September 20, 2022, the District successfully auctioned six grazing units, with bids ranging from $10 to $39 per Animal Unit Month (AUM). An AUM is the amount of forage required to feed one cow and calf for one month. In total, 21,853 AUMs of forage were offered to 14 registered bidders, for a total of $685,262.
Representatives from Fort Bliss and Hollman Air Force Base also attended the auction to explain their involvement for the military training, including anticipated schedules, which will affect a few of the units directly.
The BLM Las Cruces District rangeland management specialists and residents of Alamogordo and Tularosa area are responsible for managing the grazing units, as well as coordinating with the military on their training schedules and the ranchers on their livestock operations. In addition, they maintain, repair, and replace any needed improvements on the Range such as grading roads, mending fences, replacing water troughs, rebuilding corrals, and retrieving cattle.
“We have had a lot of success over the years and this auction shows the commitment of the local ranchers towards the maintenance of the range,” said James Christensen, BLM Las Cruces District Supervisory Rangeland Management Specialist. “Our joint Memorandum of Understanding is the key to our successful partnership. Working with Fort Bliss and Holloman representatives, our specialists monitor the resources closely, tracking the military training to apprise management and the operators of any potential impacts to the units or grazing livestock. We’re constantly learning about the McGregor Range resources and working with the military and livestock operators to improve our communication and management practices.”
In addition, if any range improvements are damaged during military training exercises, the BLM has an avenue through the Memorandum of Understanding to seek reimbursement for the repairs necessary to restore the range to its optimal operating condition. Also, if any livestock get injured or killed during the training exercises, the BLM, on behalf of the permittee, can submit a claim to the military to cover the damages for livestock.
Throughout the year, in all types of weather, the BLM McGregor team works diligently to keep this collaborative partnership operating smoothly for the natural resources, livestock and the military mission at hand.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.