A 95,000-acre cattle ranch in northern New Mexico, home to one of the largest wild elk herds in the U.S., is poised to become public land under a deal struck yesterday. After two years of negotiations, the feds agreed to buy the scenic Baca Ranch from a Texas family for $101 million and manage it as a national preserve, while continuing to allow some ranching and logging. The move was applauded by enviros, who have been pressing to preserve open space in the region. The ranch is surrounded by publicly owned lands in the Santa Fe National Forest and Bandelier National Monument, and mountain lions, bears, and bald eagles abound on the property. The deal still needs approval from Congress.

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