New Mexico: bill introduced to transfer National Forests and BLM land to the state

A bill has been introduced in the New Mexico state legislature that would attempt to transfer ownership of the National Forests and Bureau of Land Management lands in New Mexico to the state. Representative Yvette Herrell, R-Alamogordo, and Senator Richard C. Martinez, D-Espanola believe this would increase timber harvesting and decrease the number of wildfires.

Here is an excerpt from an article at

“In my home of Otero County, we would greatly benefit from this act as it has the potential to allow for a renewal of the timber industry,” Herrell said. “A healthy timber industry, managed responsibly by New Mexicans, would not only help our economy by creating a large number of jobs, but it would also help to protect our watersheds and keep our forests as livable habitat for all wildlife. Additionally, by responsibly thinning our overgrown forests, we can help decrease the devastation of wildfires. As it is currently, the federal government has logging restrictions that keep our forests overgrown, creating a hazardous environment. When a fire starts, the overgrowth serves as kindling, creating a massive forest fire that threatens the safety of our homes and communities.”

Herrell said it is time to put an end to the wildland fire danger.

The legislation is similar to the Transfer of Public Lands Act enacted last year in Utah. But an analysis by the Utah Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel cautioned lawmakers and the governor that the act would interfere with Congress’ power to dispose of public lands. The review noted that any attempt by Utah to enforce the requirement would have a high probability of being declared unconstitutional.

Staff in the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office normally reviews proposed legislation.

“This bill does not show up on our public records site yet,” Phil Sisneros, director of communications for the AG’s office said Thursday. “That means either it is still being reviewed or it has not come to us for analysis.”

Typos, let us know HERE, and specify which article. Please read the commenting rules before you post a comment.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

4 thoughts on “New Mexico: bill introduced to transfer National Forests and BLM land to the state”

  1. Rileymon

    While I agree with you on some or most of the items…..

    The Feds themselves have created many a scenario for mistrust. While there is plenty of issues with teaparty types, Sage Rebellion types, and many other “Interest and interested” groups……..there is plenty to say about Federal timber and land management that REAAAALLLLY needs some serious addressing….like NEPA and even plenty of the Fire Management Policy(ies)

    This stuff just didn’t happen overnite in my 50 years of life……The Interior West has always been this way and maybe there is no changing attitudes….I have no real solutions but ONE that one of my professors in forestry school taught me 25 years ago……1) Don’t drive up in government vehicle thinking you are all that 2) Do not come out of that vehicle with a clipboard. 3) Do not come out of that Guv vehicle with a clipboard and start talking Forestry. 4) Do come out of that vehicle and show interest in him/her and their land and cattle.

    Indicating to me in the past…… can get more with honey than vineagar.

    It is EASY to be a POLICY WONK and start yapping policy but it is a whole different story explaining policy and having see the community how it is developed (for better or worse)

    Again, I have no real solution and have had people that seemed to mistrust me when I was attached to USDOI engine crews. Helping people understand and talking probably was a liiiiitle easier back then but there are TOO MANY “four wall foresters and ologists” out there today that find it easier to work an IPad than actuall TALK to the community

    But I have been wrong before………………………………………………………..

  2. If you’ve been around the Western US States over the past 20-30 years, you’re saying that it’s “Deja Vu all over again” (apologies to Yogi Berra!!). Before the Tea Partyers, it was the Sagebrush Rebellion folks who wanted control of all the Lands within their State. Besides being unConstitutional, they never really understood about the cash flow scenario: lots of well-paying Federal employees; Federal contracts for reforestation, TSI, etc; Payment in lieu of Taxes (PILT); and no cost fire suppression on Fed lands, but lots of community $$ flowing in when these events occur. Remember the Jarbridge Shovel Brigade” in Nevada: I sent them a broken Fire Shovel with a large brown cow-pie to show my feelings! Bottom line is that these reactionary State Legislatures don’t have a clue about the costs and benefits of managing Federal lands, and would likely be crying “poor mouth” like Texas Gov Rick Perry when bad things happen, expecting FEMA, the Fed Government and us other US taxpayers to bail them out of their economic problems caused by fires, floods, bugs, etc.
    The National Forests, National Parks, US Wildlife Refuges and other Public Lands are a National Treasure that should NOT be given away to yet another passing fantasy of western States legislators who “can’t see the Forest for the trees.”

  3. Utah did not pass a law, just a resolution that compelled the state to sue the Federal government for the transfer. Great way to fritter away a bunch of tax dollars IMHO

  4. I believe Utah passed similar legislation last year. The transfer process, per Utah’s law, was to start prior to the end of 2012. I don’t believe that the Federal gubmint has moved forward on this. Guessing New Mexico’s attempt to take over Federal lands will result in the same result – if they’re even able to pass the law.


Comments are closed.