Wednesday, December 6, 2017


Ray Keller range conservationist with U.S. Bureau of Land Management was recognized with "Ayudando siempre alli" meaning "You are always there" award at the New Mexico Joint Stockman’s convention. Ray has spent a substantial amount of time in the field building relationships with ranchers and partnerships with Soil & Water Conservation Districts within Chaves, Lea, Eddy, Lincoln and Roosevelt counties in New Mexico. Also spent time building working relationships with New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts (NMACD), CEHMM (Center of Excellence), Wild Turkey Federation, New Mexico State University, Eddy County Cooperative Extension Service, Dow Chemical, Fish & Wildlife Service, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Watershed Alliance, Bureau of Reclamation, Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, Local businesses, Oil & Gas Industry, NM Highway Department. In all, Ray has partnered with more than 300 stakeholders. Because of these relationships, community business, utilities and local government has contributed approximately $510,000 toward noxious weed treatment with in Eddy County alone. Other counties within southeast New Mexico have seen similar results, due to his tireless efforts to bring our communities together to improve the land around us. Ray is the driving force behind the collaborative efforts of all of these incredibly diverse affiliations Ray spearheaded the Restore New Mexico initiative. This is a landscape scale habitat improvement project across all of New Mexico, but especially in Southeastern New Mexico. It is a true landscape scale initiative because it is without boundaries and includes both State and private lands. At this point Ray and all of the partners have completed 1.4 million acres of restoration and reclamation solely in the Pecos District. After becoming a state wide initiative, Restore New Mexico has treated more than 3 million acres. To control invasive species such as mesquite, cat-claw/creosote, and shin-oak; noxious weed treatment – African Rue, Malta Star-thistle, salt cedar; and restoration and reclamation – abandoned well pads, caliche pits and oil field roads. He participates in and attends many meetings around the state as well as giving informational lectures on the various aspects of the program. Ray has brought about many tours of Restore New Mexico projects that have been held to showcase the results of the program. These have been instrumental in fostering partnerships as well as motivating all levels of leadership within the BLM, from Washington D.C. to the local field office, to work together improving our public lands. There is always a cooperative and positive influence. Ray’s goal is to make sure that we leave the land in better shape than we found it. Ray is always willing to help where help is needed. Because of this, he has generated trust and a sense of shared stewardship among the local citizenry as well as various agencies working in the region. Persons from all walks, be it land owners, lessee’s, industry, state and community government or environmental advocacy groups have found common ground working with each other and with the BLM to improve our region’s natural resources. Ray’s efforts to bring all these different factions together has been instrumental in inspiring trust to further the collective commitment of everyone to insure our public lands are healthy.

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