Breathtaking views on the Criswell can be enjoyed year around as this stunning winter season photo clearly shows. © 2007 - 2012
© 2007 - 2012
© 2007 - 2012
© 2007 - 2012

Welcome to CattleGuard!

Winter 2006 Issue...

Cattleguard Changes

The Cattleguard is a newsletter published by Criswell Owners Group. COG is a non-profit corporation that endeavors to help the landowners of property on the Criswell. Criswell is not a sub-division, a real estate development, a condominium, or any of those other type of places that requires CC&Rs or other rules and regulations. It is simply the getting together of property owners to get a few services and tasks done. Things like land surveys and roads built and maintained.

Some of us who live out here put the newsletter together and mail it to the property owners to keep them aware of activities.

Many owners have never seen their property for various reasons. Some are just now finding out that they own property here. They inherited it from their parents and just become aware of it when they get The Cattleguard. Others have owned their property for a few years but because they didnít know where it was, and if there is no road near it they canít get to it. That is the purpose of The Cattleguard.

Beginning with this issue, we will no longer make a complete mailing by snail mail. Henceforth we will publish The Cattleguard ONLY by E-mail and on this web site.

More On Allotments

In a prior issue, the headlines for this column blurted out in bold type that a survey of the allotment had been completed. And so it has. Let me tell you what that means to private property owners on the Criswell. The allotment is that area that the BLM leases to a cattleman for grazing his cattle. The cattleman can also graze his cattle on our land unless we choose to build a fence around our property to keep the cattle out. This is called the New Mexico "fence out law". Most of us are not bothered by the cattle but those who try to grow fruits and vegetables find the cattle quite troublesome. And it is not the responsibility of the cattleman to repair the fence. In 1983 the BLM sent their survey team to the Criswell Allotment to do a Cadastral Survey. Cadastral means "land" as opposed to cultural or artifacts surveys. Because of the rough terrain they only completed their sections in 3-9 and 4-10.

To top it off, they used up their complete survey budget. No further cadastral surveys are scheduled for the Criswell. The BLM wants surveys so they will know when someone is encroaching on public land. We want surveys so we can find our property lines and can avoid the heavy fines for encroaching on BLM land. So we bought a GPS survey. It is as accurate as a military Global Positioning System, and that's good enough to put a missile in your bed room. We can give you the coordinates of your four corners. If you want to make arrangements to get the coordinates or have someone show you the location e-mail us at or leave a message at 575 772 2773. We'll get back to you eventually.

Frequently Asked Questions

Or "FAQ" as the computer crowd refers to them. The most frequently asked question we get is: "What is property out there going for now? Or, "What is property out there worth now?" If we knew what the "comps" around here are, we could compare our property to other parcels that have sold recently. (See where that "comp" word comes from now?) to what recently sold and get a fairly accurate evaluation.

But New Mexico is NOT a "declare the sale price" state. Even the assessor does not know for sure what property sells for. Real Estate people will tell you that property is worth as little as you will take for it or as much as somebody will pay for it. And while that is perfectly true, it does not give you any idea of what you should ask for your property or what a buyer should offer for it. So let me try to give you some comps on the Criswell. (It was only recently that I found out that "comps" means comparisons.)

So here goes. A retired Real Estate broker, who lives in Albuquerque, Will pay $5000 for virtually any forty-acre piece on the Criswell. He sells those parcels for from $16,000 to $20,000. The most that we have heard a forty-acre piece has sold for on E bay is 12,000. How does the retired RE guy get so much more, you ask? He sells the property on time payments. Like $1000 down and $100 a month. Also he runs ads in Eastern newspapers. 40 acres for $20,000 looks pretty cheap in New York or Florida. He has about 15 people who are making payments to him now. He has been doing this for quite a few years now. But who would want to go to that trouble to advertise and correspond and collect payments on just one 40-acre piece? You? Probably not. So now what is it worth? Many of us received a letter from somebody in the East who offered $4000 for our forty acres. Those who told us about the letter were put in touch with the Albuquerque man and got their $5000.

In short, on the low end, the property is worth $5000, unless you are willing to take less. Some of this property is worth much more than others. But because nobody knew where their property was or how to get to it, the value stayed the same as what they paid for it. But we now know where all of our property lines are and if we can get to the property without a helicopter, we can put up corner stakes. This makes your property more valuable than what you paid for it. But by how much? I think it increases the value by at least $1000. But I don't know if the real estate man will pay $6000 for it.


Some of the roads have not been repaired and might not be for a couple of years. We had thought we were getting ahead of the road problem but it is now evident that unless we engineer these roads and use diversionary tactics, these roads will never be any more than primitive roads. But we have a plan. Between Henry Bergman, an engineer and me, a civil and road building draftsman we can generate the plans to build permanent roads with culverts and bridges as needed. This of course is going to be costly.

Lowering Your Taxes: The Criswell vs. County Politics

The open range is slowly being closed. Developers and other large corporations are buying up large privately owned ranches in the West. Some are being turned into private hunting preserves. Others are just sitting while waiting for the new owners to decide what they will do with it. Because The Criswell has been divided into so many small chunks it is unlikely it will ever be gobbled up. And as it is a checkerboard with Federal public and NM State land, that makes it difficult to manage.

The BLM is mandated to make the best use of the public land that it can. So far the best use is to lease their property out for grazing. But when they do that, the lease holding rancher gets to use our property for free. Most of us do not have a problem with that. We don't have anything that we can do with the grass anyway. But if we want to grow anything, we must fence the rancher's cattle out of our garden. So what we do is--buy our fruits and vegetables, and take advantage of the tax break. The saving is not much, just $21.00 on a 40 acre parcel. That means your tax will be five dollars per year instead of twenty-six dollars.

There are approximately 623 forty-acre parcels of land within the Criswell. At $26.00 per 40 acres our tax contribution is around $16,000. If every land owner filed a statement declaring that their land was being used for grazing, our tax contribution would shrink to about $3000. The only service we get from Catron County is the grading of about 4 miles of The Main Ranch Road twice a year. We know that the loss of $13,000 revenue is not going to get the commissioners excited. But they might just start to realize that if we could get to our properties, those of us that wish to sell, could get a fair price. That would raise the tax base which we would not be unhappy to pay. You can call the Catron County Assessors office for the form to fill out. It must be filed by the end of February, I believe. The phone number is 575 533 6576. The fax number is 575 533 6577. I am not going to put my name on this. I live here and see these commissioners frequently at coffee time. I don't like salt in my coffee.

- Anonymous

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© 2007 - 2012

© 2007 - 2012
© 2007 - 2012