New Mexico Blocks Land Exchanges

New Mexico – State Land Commissioner Ray Powell has ordered an immediate moratorium on land exchanges.

The action, announced Thursday, is part of an overall review of policies at the State Land Office.

Land exchanges are transactions where state trust land is swapped with private land.

Powell says three proposed land exchanges in the White Peak area of Mora and Colfax counties in northeastern New Mexico will not go forward.

Powell, who took office this month, says he hopes to ensure transparency and accountability. He says communities and counties that will be affected by exchanges should have adequate opportunities to comment.

Former Land Commissioner Patrick Lyons, who couldn't seek re-election after serving two terms, was criticized over his handling of the proposed exchange of thousands of acres of state land around White Peak.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.