Did you know that the federal government owns nearly 50 percent of the land area in New Mexico? Check out the map below and you’ll be surprised to see just how much of the Land of Enchantment the Feds control
Why is that so important? Well, our Senators, Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall, have introduced legislation S. 1689 that would put another 259,000 acres of land under federal control, by designating the land as wilderness. The government would not “own” the land, but it would be virtually impossible to do anything economically-viable with the land.
Now, I’m not here to argue that the land in question that surrounds the Organ Mountains is not historically-significant or geologically-unique. But I will say that I find it hard to justify even further federal control over what is becoming ever more rare and limited land remaining under private control in New Mexico. Rather than simply giving the feds ever-greater power to regulate land use in New Mexico, perhaps we should set a cap, say 40%, over which the federal government cannot own or manage as wilderness. If they want to control more than that, then they have to sell off or return control over the land to local citizens.
At the very least, rather than having the federal government come in and take this action, why not put the decision in the hands of legislators and those who actually represent us in the Legislature in Santa Fe?