(LAS CRUCES) -- New Mexico's commisioner of public lands is touring the state, educating people about his office and gathering input on ways to make the Land of Enchantment a better place to live.
Commissioner Ray Powell is starting a new partnership, calling for the state land office to work with New Mexico's more than one hundred municipaltities and 32 counties that have trust land near or within its borders.
“Public input is critical and if we’re going to have a democracy, it only works if we only have lots of sunshine because again if there is a lack of input we maybe doing something we think is a good idea or we may be doing something that is not appropriate and if they community can’t be involved you don’t get that check and balance,” he said.
More than 50,000 acres of state trust land or about one-half of one percent have been identified as having potential for accommodating the needs of nearby communities.
“We’ve done nature preserves, we’ve done business parks, we’ve done recreational fields, affordable housing. We’ve done master plan communities by working with that community. We use our trust land to really create opportunities while enhancing our quality of life,” said Powell.
Powell's community partnership program began 12 years ago during his last term in office and continues to reach out to the various communities to help develop trust land in keeping with spots identified as important to a community's long-term viability and vision.
“The healthier our local community, the more valuable the adjoining trust land. So, we want to make decisions that are generational, that are good decisions for ourselves and for the future generation so that we really optimize our quality of life because we’re all chose to live in New Mexico because of the special nature of this place,” said Powell.
Currently, the State Land Office is working with the City of Las Cruces to market trust land in prime locations inside the west Mesa Industrial Park along interstate 10 in west Las Cruces.
“If we treat it with respect. If we treat each other with respect, we end up making good decisions and ensuring that land remains healthy and that all the four legged critters and the guys that fly they have an opportunity to succeed. Many of us like to go bird watching or look at the wild flowers or go hunting or fishing that only is something we can do if the land is healthy,” he said.