Monday, October 12, 2015

Otero County appealing forest lawsuit

County Commissioners have decided to appeal a federal ruling from the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico on a resolution authorizing them to remove trees from the Lincoln National Forest in an executive session at their regular meeting Thursday morning. According to Chief U.S. District Judge Christina Armijo, removing trees from the Lincoln National Forest without their consent is unconstitutional because it violates the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution County Commission Chairman Ronny Rardin said the fight on who has jurisdiction on forest lands has been an ongoing issue since he’s been elected into office in 1992 and believes the County has every right to manage those lands. “I’ve been quiet for the last year because this case has been in front of the federal courts. The judge finally ruled, which we have every reason to believe that she would vote against us, so our next step is to take this to the next level,” Rardin said. “What she said in her summary judgement is that the federal government as a whole has the authority of an exclusive legislative jurisdiction, which they don’t. If they have an enclave like Holloman Air Force Base does, they have exclusive legislative jurisdiction. Congress makes the rules, they follow the laws and they have police powers. The forest and BLM only have proprietary jurisdiction, which means that our sheriff is the law.” He said the County followed state law and has faith that the Supreme Court will rule in their favor because they follow the constitution. “We followed state law, Senate Bill 1 said we could do this, they came to sue us on that level. They’re going to have to prove to the courts that our state doesn’t have the authority to make law,” Rardin said. “Now that we have Lisa Jenkins, our new County Attorney, we’re going to go through her and we’re going to work this out and appeal it. I’m going to predict that we’re going to lose the appeal because they’re a very liberal court. The next appeal will go quickly to the United States Supreme Court and we believe that the Supreme Court, being a liberal court as well, will follow the constitution because they have in so many cases before.” Forest Supervisor Travis Moseley said that the ruling came as bittersweet but it was very important to the Forest Service as it reaffirmed their authority and jurisdiction of forest lands...more

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