NM Legislation Demands Title To Federal Lands

Feb 25, 2013

Three New Mexico lawmakers have introduced legislation demanding that the federal government surrender control of millions of acres of public land.

Supporters of the bipartisan bill contend the state would do a better job of managing the land and would no longer have to share natural resource royalties with the federal government.

However, critics say the state would not be able to absorb the costs of managing more land or hiring the hundreds of employees that would be needed.

In New Mexico, the annual budgets for U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management operations total more than $200 million.

Legislative staffers have also questioned the legislation's constitutionality.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed similar states' rights legislation last year despite warnings from attorneys that the law was probably unconstitutional. In neighboring Arizona, Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a similar bill.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.