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Thu February 13, 2014
Should Some Federal Land Become State Land In New Mexico?
Santa Fe – Federal lands in New Mexico could ultimately become state land if a study to explore that possibility proves feasible, and if a bill calling for that study passes the Senate. A Senate Memorial sponsored by Senator Ron Griggs of Alamogordo calls for a cost-benefit study of the possibility of the State of New Mexico assuming management of certain federal lands within the State, and reducing payments to the feds.
“It would benefit the State greatly to take over management of certain federal lands within our borders, and overtime, receive ownership. The State knows best how to manage land within its borders,” Senator Griggs said. “As the State takes over management, it would receive a larger share of royalties from oil and gas production and other payments, such as grazing fees, than it currently receives with the federal government managing the land. If the feds are out, they shouldn’t receive any management fees.”
Senator Griggs said his proposal is different from others because he is actually providing a plan, and a starting point to begin the transfer.
Senator Griggs said the federal government has control of vast holdings of land in New Mexico; in some counties, controlling up to 85% of the land. He said that is resulted from a late-nineteenth-century national policy for the western, arid states in which the focus changed from private residency on land to economic production from land.
He said if the study proves the transfer of Federal lands to the state is feasible, the federal government would also benefit because it would no longer have to pay the costs associated with land management in New Mexico. The memorial notes the federal government’s current debt of more than $17 trillion and it struggles to pay for current government functions.
SM 47 requests that the State Land Office (SLO) and Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources (EMNR) Department study costs and benefits to the State of assuming responsibility for managing federal resource production lands within New Mexico. The study would exclude federally reserved tribal lands.