Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Editorial: Land transactions good deals for pueblos, children

Two New Mexico pueblos got bigger last week in transactions that will benefit many New Mexicans.

On Friday, Isleta Gov. E. Paul Torres and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell signed papers transferring nearly 90,000 acres, known as the Comanche Ranch, into trust for the pueblo.

The pueblo had purchased the property west of Belen in 1997 for $7.3 million and began the process of applying to make it an official, permanent part of the pueblo.

...Meanwhile in Santa Fe on Wednesday, state Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn announced that the old Dixon Apple Orchard and 8,800 acres of adjacent state trust land in northern New Mexico will be traded to Cochiti Pueblo. The pueblo has been seeking to regain the properties for decades because they contain ancestral village sites and hunting areas.

In exchange, the Land Office will get the two-acre Garrett’s Desert Inn site in downtown Santa Fe, near Land Office headquarters on Old Santa Fe Trail.

Here’s how this deal works: The Catron family of Santa Fe is selling the Garrett’s site to Cochiti, which will trade it to the state.

Dunn said the state will make eight times more income from the downtown Santa Fe site than it has been getting from the orchard and the trust land, which were spoiled by devastating fires and flooding in 2011.

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