Friday, September 17, 2010

The Nature Conservancy Scores Millions from Richardson

Today’s newspaper story and yesterday’s news release from Gov. Bill Richardson say the governor will spend $2.8 million of federal stimulus money (from something called the Government Services Fund) to buy the 12,142-acre Ortiz Mountain Ranch from The Nature Conservancy and a private party and use the parcel for a wild horse sanctuary. The first reaction is that The Nature Conservancy saw the governor coming because it got 11,500 acres of the ranch via a bequest in a will. The release didn’t specify the Conservancy’s take. Well over $2 million is a reasonable guess. Nice.

A second question from this city boy is whether New Mexico has any wild horses. Apparently we do, Google indicates. How many is an unanswered question. See below.

The third matter is that this deal will likely add to state employment and require additional capital spending to get the facilities, including a 5,000-square-foot ranch house, up to speed. In other words, the governor is again expanding state government. He still doesn’t get it.

Google gets one to a New Mexico Independent article from August 26 that says “$100,000 will be used to manage wild horses on the Jicarilla Apache Nation,” which has as many as 600 wild horses. I have never understood the meaning of “as many as” when stating a number. But that’s just me.

There is a New Mexico Mustang and Burro Association (, a chapter of the American Mustang and Burro Association.

It says there are “33,000 horses in captivity,” though no location is given and no source of the data is provided.

An article is posted with the title of,

The Power of the Compassionate Heart: Horses as Spiritual Teachers and Healers.” Good ole New Mexico enchantment.

There is also a Wild Horse Observers Association with a website,, that was last updated on March 3, 2009.

For economic impact, the news release from the governor’s office throws out some numbers that appear to come from The clever thing in the release is use of numbers covering much more than this particular project.

One claim is that “active outdoor recreation,” the term of art here, “supports” 47,000 jobs in New Mexico. In the many job studies I’ve seen over the years, I don’t remember the word “supports.” I have no idea that means. The usual statement is that X people are directly employed and Y other jobs are created.

The report used multipliers (“ripple effect”) from the IMPLAN model. The IMPLAN input/output model is a commonly used economic tool.

These jobs come from “simple, healthy outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, camping, or wildlife.” Note that none of these “simple, healthy outdoor activities” have anything to do with horses. The report claims that 23%, or 322,662, New Mexicans over 16 are involved in bicycling, on or off the road. Not that I am one to argue with IMPLAN, the figure simply is implausible.

I could go on, but other things beckon. The state may indeed buy this land. But spending more money on it should not happen. Think of kids and roads.

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