Land Exchange Cancellation Upheld

New Mexico – A state district judge has sided with Land Commissioner Ray Powell in a battle over a land swap on northern New Mexico's White Peak.

Powell's office announced Judge Sarah Singleton's decision Friday.

The judge found that Powell took correct action in cancelling an exchange that involved 7,205 acres of state trust land and 3,327 acres of the Stanley Ranch.

Former Land Commissioner Patrick Lyons had negotiated the exchange in 2009. State Attorney General Gary King challenged it, claiming Lyons violated the law by approving the swap without a public auction.

The state Supreme Court rejected the exchange in January 2011, and Powell issued an order cancelling it a few months later. Ranch owner David Stanley then appealed.

Powell says the swap was a bad deal for the state trust, for sportsmen and for local communities.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.