Federal lands and historical/ethnic land use

The Rio Grande Foundation doesn’t typically get involved in issues of race and ethnicity. It doesn’t mean that these aren’t real and important issues, but that our primary goal is freedom. That freedom has been negatively-impacted by misguided federal land use policies and we have pointed out the economic bonanza awaiting us if the state took over management of many federal lands now managed by Washington.

In terms of New Mexico’s federal lands, today’s Albuquerque Journal contained an article by an Hispanic advocate for changes to federal lands policies that would respect the historical Hispanic claims to those lands and their uses. The good news is that such concerns are shared across the ideological and political spectrum by people who think New Mexico lands should be managed by New Mexicans.

Average people who have been stewards of these lands for generations are losing access to those lands due to strict land-use policies out of Washington. That is sad and very frustrating both to the article’s author and to me.

One caveat: While the high-handed and bureaucratic approach of federal officials may be appalling and frustrating, I’m not convinced that it amounts to “racism” or “anti-Hispanic” as the author claims. The mentality of too many in Washington is to demean and marginalize anyone who stands in the way of their grand plans, regardless of race or ethnicity. It’s not that the US Government, The Forest Service, or its employees are racist, but that Hispanics are the primary group standing in the way of their control of ever-larger swaths of land and thus more power for themselves.

It is time for anyone concerned about this issue to support efforts in NM’s Legislature to return control of these lands to New Mexico!