The governor describes the purchase of the ranch as a "long-term investment" that will help save a part of the West's heritage.
Cattle grazed for decades on the Ortiz Mountain Ranch and its rocky range dotted with pinion, juniper and cholla cactus, but New Mexico plans to bring back another inhabitant that has disappeared from much of the Western landscape — wild horses.
Gov. Bill Richardson's administration is buying the 12,000-acre ranch to create the first state-run preserve for wild horses.
The proposal is drawing praise from activists trying to save wild horses, but it has run into opposition because of Richardson's idea for financing the deal. He intends to spend $2.8 million in federal economic stimulus money to acquire the land.
"The money should be used for people vs. animals, as far as I'm concerned, given the financial condition the state is in," says Democratic Sen. John Arthur Smith, chairman of the Senate committee that handles the budget.
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What do you think about the proposed wild-horse reserve? How will this impact the cattle producers who have traditionally utilized these grasslands? What solutions do you have to care for the wild horses of America? Share your thoughts with us.