Valles Caldera Seeks Applications for 2020 Livestock Program

Updated: Jun 2, 2020

Mandated by Congress to allow the grazing of livestock to the extent the use furthers scientific research or interpretation of its ranching history, Valles Caldera National Preserve is seeking applications for its 2020 livestock grazing program.

The National Park Service (NPS) will issue a one-year special use permit to a private operator to graze livestock on the preserve from June 1, 2020 until September 30, 2020. Livestock grazing is permitted within two fenced areas along the eastern side of the preserve, totaling 1,343 acres. The areas support an average of 163 Animal Units per Month (AUM) based on the preserve's forage utilization model. Stocking rates may increase or decrease, within the range of 67 – 273 AUM, depending on range conditions, including forage availability, precipitation, and soil moisture. A final assessment to set the stocking rate for the season is conducted in early May. The NPS closely monitors the preserve’s grasslands to prevent overgrazing, and if conditions become too dry, the livestock program may be delayed or cancelled for the year. Grazing fees are set based on fair market value for the State of New Mexico, generally between $20-$25 per AUM for comparable high productivity grazing areas.

All interested livestock operators are eligible and encouraged to apply. Applications that meet all NPS requirements and permit conditions will be entered into a random drawing, from which the 2020 operator will be selected. Applications that do not meet all NPS requirements and permit conditions will be eliminated from further consideration.

Application packets can be obtained on the preserve’s website

(, by request via email to, in person at the Valle Grande Entrance Station (daily from 9 AM to 5 PM), or by calling 575-829-4100, ext. 4. Applications must be received by 4:30pm on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. The selection of the operator will take place at 1 PM MDT on Monday, March 16, 2020 at the preserve’s administrative headquarters located at 090 Villa Louis Martin, Jemez Springs, NM 87025. Program applicants and the general public may attend the drawing. However, applicants do not need to be present to be selected.

According to historical data, the grasslands within the preserve’s grazing areas had a historical fire return interval of 3-12 years. Therefore, to mimic natural fire behavior to improve grassland health and forage quality for both wildlife and livestock, the NPS will seek to rest and burn the grazing areas every ten years, during which time grazing will be suspended. Beginning in 2021, NPS officials plan to rest the grazing areas and conduct prescribed burns the following year in 2022. After the treatments, the NPS intends to issue future grazing permits for a two-year period. Applications for the two-year special use permit will be announced during summer 2022.

136 views0 comments