Friday, February 08, 2013

Land Transfer Act would benefit Otero Co.

Across New Mexico, we have a rich history in farming, ranching, hunting, fishing and oil drilling. In our past, we have also had a thriving timber industry that is unfortunately near nonexistent. We have been fortunate to have vast expanses of land that can be utilized by New Mexicans to help feed their families and enrich their communities. However, we are currently not getting the full use of the land that could be available. Instead, we are paying a management fee to the federal government to allow them to make the rules on how our land is used. To ensure that New Mexicans are able to take part in a variety of livelihoods, as well as to ensure that we can all responsibly enjoy our lands, I have sponsored legislation -- cosponsored by Sen. Richard Martinez, D-Española, and Rep. Debbie Rodella, D Española -- that will transfer ownership and management of public lands from the federal government back to New Mexico. Doing so will give us both an increase in revenues, as well as a greater authority in making decisions that are best for New Mexicans. Local people are the best ones to make the decisions that affect their homes and communities. Under our bill, the Transfer of Public Lands Act, we are not advocating for the sale of any of these lands, or even proposing that anything be done with monuments, parks, tribal land and other federally managed lands. Instead, we are targeting public lands, like our forests and those currently managed by the Bureau of Land Management. In Otero County, we would greatly benefit from this act as it has the potential to allow for a renewal of the timber industry. A healthy timber industry, managed responsibly by New Mexicans, would not only help our economy by creating a large number of jobs, but it would also help protect our watersheds and keep our forests as livable habitats for all wildlife. Also, by responsibly thinning our overgrown forests, we can help decrease the devastation of wildfires. As it is currently, the federal government has logging restrictions that keep our forests overgrown, creating a hazardous environment. When a fires starts, the overgrowth serves as kindling, creating a massive forest fire that threatens the safety of our homes and communities. Our state has seen too many out-of-control fires over the past few years, and we can help stop this threat to our safety. It is time to put an end to this danger for Otero County and for all New Mexicans...more

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