Keeping ranchers' options open

  Among his fellow New Mexico ranchers, Sid Goodloe is known as a contrarian (HCN, 4/15/96: Raising a ranch from the dead). His newest project, the Southern Rockies Agricultural Land Trust, is keeping that reputation intact. Goodloe hopes to convince his neighbors that conservation easements - voluntary legal agreements that prohibit development of private land - are a fine idea. "I've spent 44 years improving this outfit," he says of his ranch in south-central New Mexico, "and I don't want to subdivide. I'll do anything I have to, to avoid it." Though his three-year-old land trust hasn't completed any easements yet, the group has drummed up some local interest and support. It's also enraged the leadership of the New Mexico Cattlegrowers' Association, which views conservation easements as a violation of private property rights. "Sometimes I feel like I'm going to a Baptist convention and supporting abortion," Goodloe says of the cattlegrowers' meetings. He argues that conservation easements, which often carry tax breaks for landowners and their heirs, help keep ranchers' options open. Says Goodloe, "This is for people who don't want the IRS to decide the future of their property."

Contact the Southern Rockies Agricultural Land Trust at 505/354-2379 or [email protected]

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