CLOUDCROFT, N.M. (KRQE) – A battle is brewing in New Mexico over water.
Ranchers claim the U.S. government is stealing their water and using an endangered animal to do it.
The forest service has fenced off land where the Goss family says they own the water rights.
They say it’s all to protect the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse, an endangered species, but many people believe it’s about more than a mouse.
“It’s not about the species and the water specifically, it’s the fact the federal government is using these animals as tools to get us off the land,” said Megan Richardson with Protect Americans Now.
The Goss family says that by fencing off these areas, the forest service has made running their cattle operation nearly impossible, because their cows now have to walk way too far for water.
“They really have no clue of a cattle operation and how my husband runs a cattle operation and how this is going to impact it,” said Kelly Goss.
The Goss family says the forest service has made them promise after promise that they would work with them but that hasn’t happened.
They are taking legal action in hopes of getting these fences taken down and are calling on the governor to help them.
“We would like to have the State of New Mexico step forward ,and most particularly the state engineer and help us with this. Not only do the Goss’ have the rights to these waters, they also have the right to access these waters,” said Michael Van Zandt, the Goss’ attorney.
The forest service insists it’s been working with the ranchers for a solution to make sure there is water for their cattle.