Range Improvement Task Force Members

This team of specialists was assembled to serve as unbiased, professional, fact-finding advisors and educators on the subject of rangeland use. At the direction of New Mexico's 33rd Legislature, the team was organized to expand the research and education program in range management at New Mexico State University.

Team members work with ranchers and public land agencies toward effective range resource conservation and economic improvement for range livestock industry.

Sam Smallidge

Title: Interim Coordinator RITF, Extension Wildlife Management Specialist

Assistant Professor / Wildlife Specialist

Department Affiliation: Animal Sciences & Natural Resources, Animal & Range Sciences

  • PhD New Mexico State University 2005
  • Range ecology and management and monitoring
  • Wildlife and livestock interactions

Wildlife / Rangeland Management Education Programs

Wildlife / Range Programs

  • Monitoring New Mexico Rangelands

  • Monitoring Riparian Areas

  • Drought Management

  • Livestock Management Practices and Wolves

  • Elk-Livestock Interactions: Implications to Rangelands

  • Carbon sequestration on New Mexico Rangelands

4-H and Youth Education

  • State Range Contest

  • Shooting Sports State Contest: Hunting

General Range Programs

  • General consultation

  • Regional and National Activities

  • Research Cooperation with WRRI and NMSU personnel

  • Graduate Committee Service

  • FFA State Pasture and Range Contest

Research Efforts

Research interests include agriculture-wildlife interactions and animal-plant interactions.

  • Elk-livestock interactions

  • Riparian Restoration

  • Oak brush manipulation and management

Image of man

Alexander "Sam" Fernald

Title: Asst. Professor Rangeland Resources,

Associate Professor Watershed Management

Department Affiliation: Animal and Range Sciences

  • PhD Colorado State University 1999
  • Surface water / groundwater interactions
  • Vegetation treatments on water quantity and quality


  • Rangeland Hydrology, Vegetation Management, and Water Resources

  • Forested watershed management, Mora, NM and vicinity

  • Chihuahuan Desert Rangeland Research Center Las Cruces, NM

  • Pinon-Juniper watershed management, Corona Livestock Research Center, Corona, NM

  • Forested watershed management, Cloudcroft, NM

  • Pinon-Juniper watershed management, Santa Fe Ranch, Santa Fe, NM

  • Surface Water / Ground Water Interactions and Acequia Hydrology

  • Alcalde Science Center, Alcalde, NM

  • Taos


  • Watershed Management

  • Forestry and Society

  • Watershed Measurements and Methods


  • Water Quality

  • Runoff and Erosion Management

  • Forest Watershed Health


Alexander Ferdinand

Jerry M. Hawkes

Title: Range Livestock Economist

Department Head / Range Livestock Economist

Department Affiliation: Extension Animal Sciences & Natural Resources

  • PhD New Mexico State University 2004
  • Range livestock cost and return estimates
  • Rangeland economic policy and impacts

My responsibilities revolve around education opportunities as an Extension Specialist as well as an instructor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Business. My current appointment is 51% Cooperative Extension and 49% Teaching responsibilities.

Educational Programs

  • Livestock Cost and Return Estimates (Projected and Actual, published annually)

  • Crop Cost and Return Estimates (Projected and Actual, published annually

  • Beef Marketing, a Value Added Approach for New Mexico Producers

  • Financial Record Keeping for New Mexico Producers

  • Economic considerations as they occur for New Mexico producers

Instructional Activities

  • Undergraduate Chair

  • Instruct five traditional classes

  • Coordinate the Distance Education component for Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Business

  • Advise approximately 180 undergraduate students

  • Advise 6 graduate students (1 Ph D. and 5 Masters Students)

Service Activities

  • I am currently serving on 5 departmental committees

  • I am currently serving on 3 college committees

  • I am currently serving on 2 university committees

  • Co-Faculty advisor for the Rodeo Team

  • Faculty advisor for the Collegiate Farm and Livestock Bureau

  • Faculty advisor for Sigma Alpha

I would like to increase the efforts along the lines of more Value Added products for the beef producers. I am working with the NM Beef Council to begin the process of developing a state-wide marketing plan for beef. This may include a packing facility (although I think the preliminary numbers won't support this) and quite likely a branded product to engage the consumer and bring more recognition to New Mexico produced beef.

In addition for the teaching side I would like to develop a couple of classes that deal with the macro-side of agricultural business. We currently do not have any offered and this in my opinion is a big hole in the program.


Kert R. Young

Title: Rangeland Brush Management Specialist

Department Affiliation: Animal and Range Sciences Department, Extension Animal Sciences & Natural Resources

Major Programs

  • Ecology and control of shrubs and weeds

  • Rangeland vegetation management

I started in mid-January 2016 as the Ext Rangeland Brush & Weed Specialist for NM. My experience with invasive plants began on our farm in western Idaho where we raised beef and dairy cows. Later, college and work experience would continue my relationship with invasive plants. I studied rangeland related coursework at Treasure Valley Community College, Eastern Oregon University, Oregon State University, and Brigham Young University. My research work during graduate school focused on brush and weed ecology and management. I had the opportunity to work with several plant species especially juniper, pinon, cheatgrass, medusahead, bluebunch wheatgrass, and squirreltail. I practiced my training as a licensed professional pesticide applicator for Washington County in Idaho where thistles were a common target among other noxious weeds.

My natural resource work continued as a rangeland management specialist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service in southern Idaho. I served the public by working with private landowners to develop resource management plans and apply best management practices to conserve natural resources. Some of the improvement projects I worked on included revegetation, livestock water development, fencing, confined animal feeding operations, rotational grazing plans, irrigation systems, wetland restoration, wildlife habitat, and biological weed control. I listened to local landowner concerns and engaged the public at soil and water conservation district meetings and cattleman association meetings.

Most recently, I worked as an NMSU Assistant Research Professor (postdoctoral) under direction of the USDA Agricultural Research Service, Jornada Experimental Range. I led development of the Chihuahuan Desert Rapid Ecoregional Assessment funded by the Bureau of Land Management. In these landscape assessments, we synthesized current scientific understanding of the ecological structure and function of the ecoregion and the effect of ecological drivers (e.g., invasive plants, climate change, grazing, human use, urban and industrial growth, fire, and restoration practices) on the condition of several ecosystems and wildlife species. We used conceptual models, structured decision making, geospatial layers, and narratives to discuss the ecology and management of the ecoregion and address land management questions.

Image of Kert Young

Marcy Ward

Title: Livestock Specialist

Department Affiliation: Extension Animal Sciences & Natural Resources

Major Programs:

  • Beef and sheep production / management
  • Rangeland nutrition, ranch products evaluation, performance and quality analyses

Research Emphasis:

  • Evaluation of on-ranch calf preconditioning approaches


Dr. Marcy Ward became the NMSU Extension Livestock Specialist in June of 2013. Marcy received her B.S. degree in Animal Science from Colorado State University in 1991, and her M.S. from New Mexico State University in Animal Science in 1993. Her primary research focus was in the area of ruminant range nutrition. She then went to work for Purina Mills, Inc. as a Dairy Specialist in Stephenville, TX. After three years she was transferred to South Central Kansas, where she worked with all livestock species. In 2002, she decided to return to graduate school. She received her Ph.D. in Ruminant Nutrition from North Dakota State University in 2005. She comes back to NMSU from Colby Community College, where she was the Beef Program Director for seven years.

Image of Marcy Ward

Douglas Cram

Title: Assistant Professor / Wildland Fire Specialist

Department Affiliation: Extension Animal Sciences & Natural Resources

Major Programs

  • Riparian ecology and management

  • Forest and fire ecology and management


Doug Cram is an Assistant Professor and Extension Fire Specialist at New Mexico State University. His research and Extension efforts focus on management of forests, rangelands, and riparian areas with a particular concentration on the interaction of fire within these systems. He received a BS in Wildlife Science (New Mexico State University), a MS in Forest Science (Oklahoma State University) and a PhD in Range Science (New Mexico State University). Contact him anytime to discuss and arrange a program to fit your needs.

Program Narrative:

Southwest Forest Management

Forests in the Southwest are ecologically important for their watershed, wildlife, and rangeland functions. Economically, forests are valued for the natural resource and recreational opportunities they provide. These functions and values are important to stakeholders who have for several centuries depended on natural resources for food, fiber, and shelter. In light of this multiple-use significance, forest resilience is of great interest to land managers charged with stewardship responsibilities. However, following a century of fuel buildup in the absence of frequent fire due to fire suppression, current fire regimes in many southwestern forest are characterized by low frequency, high-severity crown fires.

In light of the frequency, size, severity, and media coverage surrounding recent stand-replacement crown fires across the western United States, the pendulum of forest management has swung in a new direction. A new paradigm of restoration and fuel reduction management has arrived. The solution to reducing the risk of large-scale crown fires throughout the West is widely believed to lie in surface an aerial fuels reduction. Managers, an increasingly educated public, and students are interested the effects restoration and fuel reduction treatments have on fire severity, succession, hydrology, wildlife habitat, and even the local economy. Land managers are also interested and challenged in deciding how to allocate limited budget funds between post-fire rehabilitation and pre-fire restoration treatments. Increased knowledge, availability of information, and training opportunities to guide forest management decisions are desired and have been requested.

Image of Doug Cram