Towner named rangeland manager of the year

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Stan Towner, Natural Resources Conservation Service District Conservationist of the Datil Service Center, was named the Rangeland Manager of the Year for 2013 by the New Mexico Section of the Society of Range Management, during the winter SRM meeting held in T. or C. on Jan. 8, 2014.

Stan Towner

The awards event recognized leaders accepted over large areas of the state as being progressive, enterprising, and interested in the promotion and advancement of the art and science of rangeland management.

Towner was recognized in the service provider category for his groundwork in the field of range management in his three-year tenure in the office. During his time with the NRCS, he has created a watershed initiative for ranchers on the San Agustin plains, assisted the Salado Conservation District in obtaining three grants for piñon/juniper thinning and removal of salt cedar, and is currently administering 30 Environmental Quality Incentives Program contracts and 28 Conservation Stewardship Program contracts.

The watershed initiative on the San Agustin Plains allows producers there to qualify for EQIP contracts in areas that normally would not qualify, due to ranking criteria that have identified brush invasion as the primary resource concern in New Mexico. As there is little to no brush on the San Agustin Plains, these producers’ applications would not normally rank high enough to qualify for an EQIP contract. The creation of this initiative has enhanced the capability of the Datil Service Center to provide assistance to producers in the area.

“It was a great honor to receive this award,” Towner said. “I understand there were several qualified nominees.”

Towner is said to strive to involve other land management agencies in the area in order to coordinate efforts on the patchwork of ownership which comprises the majority of Socorro and Catron Counties. Indeed, his nomination came from Nathan Combs, Rangeland Management Specialist with the Bureau of Land Management. He has also worked extensively with the Alamo Navajo on the development of a resource management plan for Alamo Navajo tribal lands.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service Datil Service Center provides assistance to the Salado and Quemado Soil and Water Conservation Districts. These SWCDs serve portions of Socorro and Catron counties in western New Mexico, where rangeland beef cattle production is of importance to the local economy. Work in the field of range management assists local producers in maintaining healthy rangelands, which in turn, provide for sustainable beef cattle operations.