A strong sense of place and reliance on the land that sustains us is a common thread that unites us as New Mexicans. From the forests and mesas that catch rain and snow to feed our rivers, to the vibrant ecosystems that New Mexicans farm, hunt, fish, hike and bike, our relationship to the land, water and wildlife is central to our quality of life and deep cultural diversity.
New Mexico is home to nearly 35 million acres of public lands, including monuments and parks such as Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument and the Gila National Forest. These lands are critical habitats for an abundance of wildlife, and support recreation, hunting, tourism, and traditional cultural practices that are essential for our state’s diverse communities. They support an outdoor recreation economy that brought $1.2 billion in state income (2019), and created nearly 33,500 jobs. For many rural communities, such as Silver City or Farmington/Aztec, ecotourism is a growing portion of the local economy.
The human impacts on land and the human impact on climate are one and the same. We need wide-reaching solutions that address the climate crisis and land policies play a big role in an effective climate change strategy. Conserving and restoring more lands and waters would help protect our communities from floods, fires, storms, and other impacts of climate change, safeguarding the natural resources we rely on for food, jobs, and recreation.
Significant amounts of land remain in a natural condition in New Mexico, creating opportunities to protect those places for future generations. At the same time, due to relaxed mining and oil and gas leasing regulations, New Mexico’s public lands have become a haven for extractive industries seeking to mine and refine natural resources and minerals. These activities degrade not only the land, but the water and air, making other uses impossible without expensive cleanup and remediation.
Common policies introduced in the legislature that impact New Mexico’s land include those related to land use and growth, transportation, mining, oil and gas leasing, and conservation.
Valle de Oro Urban National Wildlife Refuge
Valle de Oro has been built from the ground up with substantial involvement of the Mountain View and other South Valley neighborhoods – it is the first NWR with an environmental justice strategic plan. It recreates the pre-engineering Rio Grande landscape on the edge of the South Valley’s industrial landscape. Photo: CVNM Staff/Michael Jensen
Related Votes for Land
- Air Quality
- Energy &
- Wildlife & Habitat
Storage of Certain Radioactive Waste more
Summary: HB 127 amends the Radioactive and Hazardous Materials Act to expand membership on radioactive waste consultation task force; expands duties of task force to include private disposal facilities; adds annual meeting requirement; adds language to NM Stat § 74-4A-11.1 to prohibit storage and disposal of radioactive waste in the state & prohibit permitting for construction or operation of a disposal facility in the state.
Outcome: HB 127 passed the House committees, but was tabled and died on the House Floor.
Tara L. Lujan
Uranium Mine Cleanup more
Summary: HB 164 outlines Department of Environment duties for clean-up and reclamation of former uranium mine and mill sites; tasks other departments, offices, and agencies to collaborate (EMNRD, Indian affairs, office of natural resources trustee, state land office; depts. of fish and game, cultural affairs, health, workforce solutions, and economic development); duties include the development of a strategic plan and a mechanism for consultation and coordination with the federal government and directly impacted communities; requires annual reporting to the radioactive and hazardous materials committee and the creation of a Dept. of Environment uranium mine reclamation coordinator position; creates the uranium mining reclamation revolving fund; appropriates $350,000 general fund dollars to Dept. of Environment for FY23 for purposes outlined.
Outcome: HB 164 passed the House 64-0, and the Senate 26-0 and was signed by the Governor on March 1, 2022
D. Wonda Johnson
Debra M. Sariñana
Environmental Rights, CA more
Summary: HJR 2 amends state constitution to add a declaration of environmental rights and establishes state “political subdivisions” as trustee of state natural resources; repeals Section 21 of Article 20, which delegates pollution control to the legislature.
Outcome: HJR 2 was tabled and died in House Judiciary Committee
Joanne J. Ferrary
Tara L. Lujan
Antoinette Sedillo Lopez
Storage of Certain Radioactive Waste more
Summary: SB 54 amends Radioactive and Hazardous Materials Act to expand membership on radioactive waste consultation task force; expands duties of task force to include private disposal facilities; adds annual meeting requirement; adds language to NM Stat § 74-4A-11.1 to prohibit storage and disposal of radioactive waste in the state & prohibit permitting for construction or operation of a disposal facility in the state.
Outcome: SB 54 died waiting to be scheduled in Senate Judiciary Committee
Know the Score > Take Action
Strategies for Land Use
Actions that protect land use:
New Mexico is leading the nation in establishing programs that will protect New Mexico’s beautiful and varied landscapes. In 2019, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and the Legislature created the Outdoor Recreation Division within the Economic Development Department, and then established the first-in-the-nation Outdoor Equity Fund. The fund supports community-based organizations building and expanding programs that increase access to the outdoors for youth of color and those from low-income communities, in the process educating the next generation of stewards of our mountains, rivers, and wildlife.
Actions that hurt land use:
No thank you!
In 2021, the Governor signed an executive order (EO) making a visionary commitment to protect 30% of New Mexico’s lands and watersheds by 2030. The 30% includes both existing and new federal, tribal, state, and local public lands along with private lands in voluntary land trusts and conservation easements. However, we have seen a slowly building campaign of cookie-cutter county-level resolutions that seek to scare people into believing that the purpose of efforts to protect our public lands, like the EO, is to take land from private landowners. It is a completely false claim. In fact, efforts that support access to public lands will significantly increase funds available for establishing land trusts and conservation easements on private lands. These extremely popular programs keep working lands in the family and away from conversion to development and provide some financial incentives or tax breaks to the participants, all while helping fund conservation work to restore the set aside land to a more natural state. Resolutions passed to oppose public lands protections directly impact the ability of their residents to gain the benefits of expanded access to outdoor activities and protection of their own lands.
Communicate with the Governor and your Legislators
Whether you’re congratulating them on their score or expressing your disappointment, be direct, courteous and polite.
The most important part is letting them know that you are paying close attention to how they vote or, in the case of the Governor, what actions she takes on legislation that affects our air, land, and water.
Calling your legislator directly and sending letters through regular mail remain by far the most effective ways to communicate with your legislators.
The Governor and Lieutenant Governor can always be contacted at the State Capitol. Except during the legislative session, state legislators should be contacted in their home districts, as listed on the current Legislators page.