The ranches of northern New Mexico, composed of land and livestock, are integral components of family and community life. This pilot study examines current economic, social, and cultural aspects of livestock operations owned by ranchers with Federal grazing permits (permittees) on the Canjilon and Española Ranger Districts of the Santa Fe and Carson National Forests. This research develops preliminary results and tests survey methods that will be used in a planned larger study. Information gathered from the study is intended to help agency managers administer forest lands with increased effectiveness by promoting greater cultural understanding. It will also be valuable as a public information tool because many residents of the State, especially those newly migrated to both urban and rural areas, are unfamiliar with the primarily Hispanic culture and traditions of northern New Mexico. The study focuses on both the economic and noneconomic contributions of livestock ownership to local families and communities. It explores the ways in which ranching maintains traditional values and connects families to ancestral lands and heritage. Acknowledging the importance of small livestock operations to area families and communities is crucial for understanding their way of life and resolving disputes over public land and resource use.