ith no resolution in sight, Sheriff Benny House said Friday he plans to continue investigating whether forest employees are breaking state law by fencing off the water.
The commission is also seeking a congressional hearing on the matter.Rancher Ed Eldridge is next in line to see a fence erected around the water on his
allotment."I don't think any foreign power could take us over, but we might lose our country from within our borders if we lose our constitutional rights," Eldridge said.Still, Eldridge, Stone and other residents said they aren't looking for an armed standoff with the federal government.
They just want their water and property rights recognized and respected, they said.Attorney Blair Dunn, who is representing the county, said he's
worried that transparency and a media spotlight could be the only things that prevent the dispute from reaching a dangerous boiling point."Generally, cooler heads prevail when we're able to sit everybody down and figure out something that works," Dunn said.Moseley of the Forest Service said he's
not surprised by the conflict, given the pressure the agency is under to manage the land for different uses."I can't speak to a broader spectrum of federal regulations and how they affect private businesses and lives, but I don't believe there is a conspiracy per se," he
said when asked about ranchers' claims of being pushed from the land.County Commissioner Tommie Herrell disagreed.
Describing the agency's actions as tyranny, he
said the Forest Service is unwilling to temporarily open the gates while the parties search for long-term solutions.â€"â€"â€"Montoya Bryan reported from Albuquerque, New Mexico.