Friday, February 01, 2013

NM legislation to take federal lands

Legislation that would move the ownership and management of U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands in New Mexico to the state has been introduced at the Roundhouse. The Transfer of Public Lands Act is sponsored by Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-Alamogordo, and Sen. Richard C. Martinez, D-Espanola. In a prepared statement, Herrell said New Mexico has a rich history of farming, ranching, hunting, fishing and oil drilling. "In our past we have also had a thriving timber industry that is unfortunately near nonexistent," Herrell said. "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 in order to allow them to make the rules on how our land is used." The legislation, introduced on Monday, would exclude national parks, national historic parks, national monuments, wilderness areas, and tribal lands. The bill calls on the U.S. Government to extinguish title to the public lands and transfer title to the state on or before Dec. 31, 2015. "In my home of Otero County, we would greatly benefit from this act as it has the potential to allow for a renewal of the timber industry," Herrell said. "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 to protect our watersheds and keep our forests as livable habitat for all wildlife. Additionally, 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 fire starts, the overgrowth serves as kindling, creating a massive forest fire that threatens the safety of our homes and communities." Herrell said it is time to put an end to the wildland fire danger. The legislation is similar to the Transfer of Public Lands Act enacted last year in Utah...more


Anonymous said...

So, just how is NM going to pay to manage these lands? Ah, they ask the federal government for funds!

Frank DuBois said...

A NMSU study during the original Sagebrush Rebellion showed that with the income from oil & gas leasing and mining, ownership of these lands was an income generator for the state.