Who’s grabbing New Mexico lands?

Recently, New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich sounded off in the East Coast liberal establishment’s favorite news outlet, The New York Times, about efforts by the Rio Grande Foundation and others who wish to devolve certain lands currently managed by Washington bureaucracies (specifically the National Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management) to state control. Needless to say, he’s not a fan.

I responded with an article that ran nationally (shockingly, not in the Times) and generated an interesting column on the situation from the Albuquerque Journal’s Washington correspondent Michael Coleman.

I noted in my column that Heinrich (and Udall) enthusiastically supported federal monument designations in both Northern and Southern New Mexico. I was remiss in not pointing out that Heinrich and Udall have introduced legislation to designate an additional 45,000 New Mexico lands as “Wilderness.” This bill is unlikely to pass Congress, but it is very possible that Heinrich and Udall will convince a lame-duck President Obama to “use his pen” to designate the land by himself in yet another federal “land grab.”

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3 Replies to “Who’s grabbing New Mexico lands?”

  1. Our senators justify their land grabs by claiming that national monuments and wilderness areas generate economic growth and create jobs. Sounds farfetched to me: If that were true, New Mexico would be prosperous.

    Has anyone ever compiled data on the economic impact of wilderness areas — added jobs and tourism revenue vs losses from excluding ranching and agriculture?

    1. James, as you might imagine, there is no definitive answer to the question of economic impact, but this is a good article on the topic. To summarize:

      (A) critical look at the existing studies makes this much clear: There is little or no evidence that wilderness bolsters economic growth. When environmentalists invoke economic arguments to support wilderness, they are exaggerating the best-available research and undermining other more compelling wilderness values.

      Wilderness advocates shouldn’t hang their hats on economic arguments. There are plenty of good reasons to love wilderness areas — but there’s just no evidence that economic arguments are one of them.

  2. Anger at the Organ Mountain land grab is one reason Rep Pearce and GOP state rep candidates did so well in the election last Tuesday. Do you hear footsteps behind you Martin? You should – Susana for Senate 2018!

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