Monday, January 29, 2024

'Fundamental disagreement' puts GOP and 'bureaucrats' in Santa Fe at odds for conservation


Two Republican ranchers in the New Mexico Senate are fighting back from perceived threats of government land grabs, as the state works to conserve land from industrial development.

Two bills introduced in the Senate this week would strip the state’s power, if passed, to buy land for conservation. The bills' sponsors say the current plan by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham may usurp land from private landowners, which the New Mexico GOP hopes to stop.

In 2021, Lujan Grisham announced her administration would target conserving 30% of lands by 2030, aligning with the “30x30” agenda put forth by President Joe Biden. The plan is to reduce the impacts of pollution from industry.

New Mexico Sen. Steven McCutcheon II (R-42) of Carlsbad sponsored Senate Bill 172 and 173, along with Sen. Pat Wood (R-7) of Broadview, that block state agencies from taking ownership of land for the purpose of “preservation.”

SB 172 would specifically bar the New Mexico Forestry Division within the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) from acquiring the land by repealing a state statute in the Forest Conservation Act that allowed the agency to do so.

Meanwhile, SB 173 would amend the Natural Heritage Conservation Act by removing language from the state law that allowed for state money to be used for agricultural easements that see the state buying portions of land owned by farmers and ranchers for conservation...more

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