Sunday, December 29, 2013

State eyes BLM land set for sale

State Land Commissioner Ray Powell thinks some federal land identified for sale could be a valuable addition to New Mexico’s trust lands, which help generate revenue for public schools and other institutions. The Bureau of Land Management is looking to sell thousands of acres that no longer meet the agency’s mission or are landlocked. Powell hopes to acquire some of the land, especially parcels along the interstates around Las Cruces and in the oil- and gas-rich Permian Basin of southeastern New Mexico. “We’re interested in high-value property that could be used for commercial purposes and would earn money for our beneficiaries,” Powell said. Sen. Michael S. Sanchez, D-Belen, is sponsoring legislation, Senate Bill 1, to give the State Land Office $250,000 over the next two years to study the feasibility of BLM land acquisitions. The bill will be considered in the Legislature’s 30-day session, which focuses on budgetary matters and begins Jan. 21. Donna Hummel, public information officer with the BLM-New Mexico office, said federal laws may limit which parcels the State Land Office can acquire. “We’re a little unsure whether we can do what Ray is proposing,” Hummel said. “That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth exploring.” Powell said State Land Office staff have spent the last two years gathering information from the five BLM districts in the state and putting together a map of the land parcels the federal agency is planning to sell...more

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