Thursday, June 28, 2012

County rethinks national monument support

After fielding requests from frustrated ranchers and farmers to reverse an earlier position in favor of a national monument, and sometimes heated discussion on the topic, some Doña Ana County commissioners on Tuesday expressed regrets about the stance they took last month. But the commission didn't indicate plans to reverse the vote. County Chairwoman Karen Perez said, in retrospect, her former vote in favor of the monument proposal was "not a responsible decision" because she didn't have full information in advance. And she expressed concerns about possible impacts to the agriculture industry because of federal regulations tied to the proposed lands designation. "The largest component of the economic base here in Doña Ana County is agriculture," she said. Perez told attendees, several dozen opponents to the monument, that she'd instead send a letter with her concerns to Washington, D.C., where the proposal is being vetted this week. She said she'd attach a number of resolutions passed by local governments recently, including Hatch, opposing the national monument. County Commissioner Dolores Saldaña-Caviness then said she'd sign the letter. County Commissioner Leticia Duarte-Benavidez also wanted to sign it. But a county attorney said that wouldn't be possible because that would constitute a quorum. He told Duarte-Benavidez she could send an independent letter...more

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