CONEJOS COUNTY — Cattle walk off a mountain area, due to defective cattle guards and the issue is a hot one.
Responsibility for a clogged cattle guard has been debated by ranchers and the Conejos Board of County Commissioners (BOCC).
Cattleman Foster Carr approached the commissioners recently to remind them he had spoken with the BOCC about two years ago and no one has been there to clean them out.
They are filled with dirt and the cattle walk right across them.
The facilities may be owned by either the Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and neither claims to have money for maintenance.
Carr said the place with the guarded gate belongs to someone who lives out of the Valley, commenting, “I don’t know what to do to have them cleaned out.”
Commission Chairman Mitch Jarvies said the county doesn’t know whose it is. In the past, the county has helped, Jarvies said, and “we are always willing to help, but we need to have an understanding in place that doesn’t obligate us, or ‘yes, that is our obligation.’”
“If we send our guys there to clean and they pull the cattle guard and it falls apart, then who is going to rebuild it?” Jarvies asked. “We have to protect the interest of the county and that is why we are meeting with the State Land Board, BLM and we talked to Andrea Jones from the US Forest Service.”
“We will be working something out to help, but we need to manage our resources.”
Carr said there is a new road just before one gets to his place and he believed the person who owned it never got an easement or a Class A jurisdiction. A survey was done, but there was never a right-of-way.
According to Carr, his dad put the cattle guard in about five or six years ago, he went to the state and agreed that he would put the fence to the north and the state to the south and the fence was never put in. It is a very well traveled road and some gates were installed.