Advantages to Fencing, Creating a Seed Reservoir

New Mexico is a fence out state, requiring landowners to fence out cattle belonging to another.  While this may seem odd and fence in makes more sense, the idea of fencing out cattle and other livestock has a long history.  But there are other advantages to enclosing parcels of land with fencing.  By fencing out livestock, native grasses begin to re-establish themselves which then go to seed.  Native grass seed spreads down wind and begins to create new areas of gasses,which if left ungrazed will continue to spread, reinvigorating the land and contributing to the topsoil allowing even more grasses to become established and grow.  If the adjoining lands are grazed this spreading of native seed is an advantage to the cattleman since a constant source of new seed is available yearly.  So, by fencing areas with local native grasses such as the San Simon riverbed, a grass seed reservoir is created from which native grasses can spread across the adjoining landscape helping not only the native wildlife but the neighboring rancher as well.

new mexico grasslands
A winter view of grazed (left) versus ungrazed (right) landscape

grazed versus ungrazed grasslands
Monsoon view (same location as above) of grazed (left) versus ungrazed (right).  Note grasses with seed heads on the ungrazed area.

grassland restoration in new mexico
Monsoon grasses in New Mexico.  The predominant winds are from the left (south).  The right side of the fence is grazed New Mexico state land while the left is ungrazed private land.
The same view as above before the monsoon rains


  1. It is so nice seeing grass grow! Just think what it will look like in a few more years.

  2. Your quite right, it should only improve with time. Kinda of sad though, watching the grass grow.

  3. There are some ranchers who do overgraze. One in particular, used to own the land you're on or part of it that went into the airpark. Someone offered him money to sell to him and the prospective buyer said he'd leave it ungrazed for 7 years or however long it would take for the grass to come back. He opted to sell to __ for $300 per acre and she turned around and sold it for $3000 per acre, at least at first with the sales boom.

    I was also told some seeds can lie dormant for 40 years until conditions are right to germinate.

  4. It is apparent the landscape was heavily overgrazed in the past. There are areas on the property where all the topsoil (1-2 ft)is gone. I have applied organic waste to reverse the process and begin to rebuild the topsoil in these barren areas. Using the title "grassland restoration project" several years ago, it was possible to demonstrate usage to the state for the then unregistered south well on the property and bring it into compliance. While I read and here about lofty projects to re-establish wildlife corridors and restore grasslands, it takes individuals out on the landscape with vision doing the work to make the idea a reality.