Friday, 16 May 2014 08:55

To Protect a Mouse, Forest Service Cuts Off Water Access in New Mexico

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Although it hasn’t reached Bundy levels of attention, leaders of a rural southern New Mexico county are bravely pushing back against a federal land grab of their own.

In Otero County, New Mexico, the federal Forest Service has fenced off a 23-acre section of land, preventing a rancher’s cattle from getting to a watering hole located on the tract.

Earlier this week, the county commission voted unanimously (with one commissioner absent) to empower the sheriff to open a gate, making a way for the cattle, some 200 in number, to get to the water. “We are reacting to the infringement of the U.S. Forest Service on the water rights of our land-allotment owners," Otero County Commissioner Tommie Herrell told Reuters. "People have been grazing there since 1956.”

As it did in the case of Cliven Bundy, the federal forest gestapo insists that the presence of the cattle threatens the “delicate ecosystem” along the Agua Chiquita that is home to the meadow jumping mouse.

Given the fact that this area of the state has been suffering under extreme drought conditions for over a year, ranchers in Otero County are particularly angry at the government’s ham-fisted attempt to exercise control over the site of the spring, effectively killing their cattle. “The winds are blowing; we’re in a drought. Sacramento Mountains are dry. So whatever water source these animals can find, they have to be able to get to it,” county commissioner Susan Flores told television station KVIA news earlier this month.

“The Forest Service has no right to appropriate water under New Mexico law,” Blair Dunn, an attorney for Otero County, told New Mexico Watchdog.

As is indicative of the whole of the Obama administration and its disdain for the rule of law and state sovereignty, the Forest Service claims the fences were erected in the 1990s and the Agua Chiquita creek runs through land owned by the federal government.

“We’ve provided reasonable access to the water, even if there is a water right on these sites,” Forest Supervisor Travis Moseley told KVIA-TV.

As for the mice that are supposedly being driven out by the thirsty herd, their presence isn’t exactly well known among locals.

"I’ve never seen one of these mice, and the Forest Service claims they caught one last year,” Commissioner Tommie Herrell told Reuters.

Forest Service spokesman Mark Chavez told Reuters that the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse was expected to be listed as an endangered species in June. That would endow that 23-acre tract with the all-important “critical habitat” designation.

Some residents of the rural county hope the feds force their will upon the ranchers. “The job of the Forest Service is to balance uses for the greatest good for the greatest number of Americans, not to provide subsidized grazing to welfare ranchers,” WildEarth Guardians posted on its Facebook page May 6. WildEarth Guardians are the self-proclaimed protectors of “the wildlife, wild places, wild rivers, and the health of the American West,” according to their website.

Despite being given the go-ahead by the county commission, as of publication time, Sheriff Benny House has not opened the gate in the Forest Service’s fence.

“Hopefully we can get something resolved on Friday,” said House, as quoted by the Washington Times.

A "facilitated discussion” has been scheduled to take place this Friday at the U.S. attorney’s office in Albuquerque.

“This is part of a larger issue,” the county’s attorney, Dunn, explained. “There’s a big, strong push, which comes from the White House, to push grazing and oil and gas uses off federal ground. This incident here is just another example.”

As for the Forest Service, they released a statement promising to “continue to work to ensure all parties involved understand that the fence is fully compliant with state and federal law.”

Dunn’s sense of the seriousness of the situation is accurate. The White House and its congressional co-conspirators seemed determined to seize control of the rural West, assuring themselves of monopoly control of the abundant minerals that bless the land and forcing Americans off the land and into cities where they are much more easily monitored and controlled.

Barely a month has passed since the showdown in Bunkerville, Nevada, the erstwhile grazing ground of rancher Cliven Bundy’s cattle.

The similarities in the cases are substantial, and both demonstrate the fact that the federal land control apparatus is marching under orders to invade the sovereign territory of Western states, in open and hostile defiance of the Constitution, the rule of law, principles of federalism, and Supreme Court rulings.

In the decision handed down by the Supreme Court in the case of Escanaba Co. v. City of Chicago, 107 U.S. 678, 689 (1883), the concept of constitutional interpretation known as the “equal footing doctrine” was established. It declares that the “equality of constitutional right and power is the condition of all the States of the Union, old and new.”

Basically, this principle requires that any state joining the union do so on equal footing with the 13 original states. As reported by the legal website Justia, “Since the admission of Tennessee in 1796, Congress has included in each State’s act of admission a clause providing that the State enters the Union ‘on an equal footing with the original States in all respects whatever.’”

The question of whether the federal government could legally and constitutionally assert ownership over lands located within the boundaries of a state was the central issue in the Supreme Court case of Pollard’s Lessee v. Hagan, decided in 1845. Justia provides a short, helpful summary of the events:

Pollard’s Lessee involved conflicting claims by the United States and Alabama of ownership of certain partially inundated lands on the shore of the Gulf of Mexico in Alabama. The enabling act for Alabama had contained both a declaration of equal footing and a reservation to the United States of these lands.

Rather than an issue of mere land ownership, the Court saw the question as one concerning sovereignty and jurisdiction of the States. Inasmuch as the original States retained sovereignty and jurisdiction over the navigable waters and the soil beneath them within their boundaries, retention by the United States of either title to or jurisdiction over common lands in the new States would bring those States into the Union on less than an equal footing with the original States.

This, the court would not permit.

Alabama is, therefore, entitled to the sovereignty and jurisdiction over all the territory within her limits, subject to the common law, to the same extent that Georgia possessed it, before she ceded it to the United States.

To maintain any other doctrine, is to deny that Alabama has been admitted into the union on an equal footing with the original states, the constitution, laws, and compact, to the contrary notwithstanding….

To Alabama belong the navigable waters and soils under them, in controversy in this case, subject to the rights surrendered by the Constitution to the United States; and no compact that might be made between her and the United States could diminish or enlarge these rights. [Emphasis added.]

The bottom line — and what should for ranchers and all other constitutionally minded Americans be the line in the sand — is that regardless of the insistence of the Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management that millions of acres of Western land were ceded to the federal government when those states entered the union, the Constitution, common law, and relevant Supreme Court rulings forbid it.

The New American will update this story after Friday’s meeting.


Joe A. Wolverton, II, J.D. is a correspondent for The New American and travels nationwide speaking on nullification, the Second Amendment, the surveillance state, and other constitutional issues.  Follow him on Twitter @TNAJoeWolverton and he can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


  • Comment Link G. T. Gregory Wednesday, 21 May 2014 08:03 posted by G. T. Gregory

    As it is here in west Texas it will rain again and probably start a flash flood through the gullies and ditches and all the little mice will drown as they do every time a big rain comes.
    To bad it won`t wash away the Federales along with the other vermin.

  • Comment Link Heidi Preston Sunday, 18 May 2014 02:23 posted by Heidi Preston

    This water grabbing is more serious then we think. You can live without food for a long time but with out water you die very shortly thereafter.

    Cutting off ranchers to water their cattle to preserve anything is questionable when it come to the life resources of humanity and should be addressed as such. Those crazy little rats reproduce which have no resource value at all. This is a thinly veiled attempt to control our food supply and more importantly the water. A resource we can't literally live with out. Rat bastards. ;/

  • Comment Link Diana Saturday, 17 May 2014 14:21 posted by Diana

    All of these excuses, and things happening with the nuclear plants, etc. is not a coincidence. This is Agenda 21 in full play; getting people to leave and migrate elsewhere, if not to Fema camps and/or those empty, massive cities the Chinese built that are still standing empty.

  • Comment Link Frank M. Pelteson Saturday, 17 May 2014 09:50 posted by Frank M. Pelteson

    Not enough people are looking at what is behind all of these federal land grabs. What they have in common relates to Agenda 21. More on Agenda 21 can be read at

  • Comment Link Nam Marine Saturday, 17 May 2014 07:26 posted by Nam Marine

    This is PURE BOVINE EXCREMENT ! And the Government knows this !

  • Comment Link Monk Saturday, 17 May 2014 01:55 posted by Monk

    No point for the gummint to save a rat that doesn't contribute to our planet. We have people who are hungry (i.e., homeless/starving) here in the US, and the frakkin' gummint socialists want the sheeple to think they want to save friggin' rats. And so ranchers are denied access to water for their cattle (which feed us ultimately), all to save a friggin' rat that is going to become extinct anyway after the gummint jaxazzes abandon their plight? Hey good people, we need to stand up and save our country from being part of the socialist globalism.
    Semper Fi,

  • Comment Link Monk Saturday, 17 May 2014 01:44 posted by Monk

    The feds need to keep their noses out of our private lives. What ever happened to our Constitutional Rights?

  • Comment Link Old Mullet Saturday, 17 May 2014 00:03 posted by Old Mullet

    Once again the federal government is out there pointing at the (proverbial) trees so we won't see the forest (they are taking over). People, Agenda 21 is real. Search it and you will see this plan, being overseen by the U.N. has been marching forward for over 30 years. The goal is to downsize human presence, contain the healthy ones in cities, remove all forms of our presence in the land vacated. It is about population control and federal (pronounced "the extreme wealth") ownership of ALL land in the U.S. Mineral rights make them billionaires. This is not theory. It is published information as part of the New World Order. The Euro Union is flexing muscle now to accomplish the same goals. Wake up and smell the vacant homes and land being taken over in the name of the "common good".

  • Comment Link Tionico Friday, 16 May 2014 20:57 posted by Tionico

    Darwin published two theories: the first, of the Origin of the Species, has been corrupted and all but elevated to the status of a religion in the form of the doctrine of evolution: slime became cells, cells became fish, fish became monkeys, monkeys became men, or something equally barmy. His second, that of Natural Selection/Survival of the Fittest, is actually good science. The tnheory holds that, in nature, those organisms best suited to a given environment will reproduce at greater rates, and persist, whilst those not so well suited will, in result of the various pressures against them, will not reproduce and thrive as vigourously, thus eventually leading to their extinction. What has flummoxed me for some time is how our government religiously adheres to the questionable former theory, and stands firmly set against the second. WHY, if that mouse is doing so poorly, enter the fray and meddle with what is already occurring in nature: the diminishing population of that mouse, which is obviously not well suited to that particular environment. Let Darwin be right. This berko "thinking" has led to all manner of travesty as our meddlesome gummint, in its press to mangle, er, manage, every aspect of every thing, has done utterly disastrous things such as introducing the Northern Grey Wolf into Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, to replace the smaller native Grey Wolf that was diminishing.... and which non-native Greater Grey began to dominate the region, causing heavy economic loss to ranchers, decimating naturally occuring game, etc, yet federal "judges", knowing little to nothing of such things, insisted in that Greater Wolf's continuing on the endangered lists. It took years of court fights to finally get that monster de-listed. Thus far, no progress on getting that barmy JUDGE delisted. Which would have been the better outcome. But, this mouse? Methinks this creature is in the same category as the California Condor, the Brown Pelican, the Northern Spotted Owl, the Delta Smelt, and the box turtle of Bundy Ranch fame... you know, the species of which the BLM killed hundreds because the funds to maintain them had run out... yet they had millions to spend on the Bundy Ranch charade, AND kill hundreds of the "threatened" turtles. If Cliven Bundy's horse had stepped on one of those, he'd (Bundy, that is) would be hauled before some magistrate and heavily "taxed" for the priviledge.

    ALL FedGov lands other than currently used military, post office, courthouses, etc, need to be surrendered to the states within which boundaries they lie. Yes, even National Parks, Wilderness Areas, Monuments, Preserves.... let the respective states take them over and manage them to the best use of the residents of those states. And yes, those people can decide to preserve some of those lands, or all of them. Let the rightful owners determine those things.

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