As part of our series on endangered species in New Mexico, Carrie and Sidsel took a field trip with WildEarth Guardians Executive Director, John Horning, to look for the elusive New Mexico Meadow Jumping Mouse (you really should listen to this one...it's a radio geek's dream, but not so translate-able to print...).
Long story short, the mouse is one of 250+ species that falls under a settlement reached last year between US Fish and Wildlife Service and two endangered species heavy-hitters: WildEarth Guardians and Center for Biological Diversity. The deal asks those nonprofits to cool it on the lawsuits for a few years. In return, Fish and Wildlife promises to make final decisions on those 250 candidate species (species on the verge of being listed but "precluded" by other priorities, sometimes for decades) by 2016 and take action on hundreds of other species inching their way through various parts of the listing process.
Of those 250 species, about 16 live in New Mexico. Of those 16, 12 live in or near water. While there's no guarantee that all of those species will get listed, many of them will, and that means there's bound to be a spike in the number and intensity of discussions about how land-- and watersheds--get managed by agencies like the Forest Service and BLM.
That's making plenty of people nervous, not least of all the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association, which fears that people like John Horning are out for blood. John Horning does, in fact, say that no grazing should be allowed on the wettest one percent of New Mexico. Whether this will be a situation where the Endangered Species Act comes through on its promise of sparking compromise...well, we'll soon find out.