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
Exclude Greenfields from Certain Taxes more
Summary: HB 26 excluded development on undeveloped lands, like forest land, from the Tax Increment for Development Act and the establishment of related Tax Increment Development Districts (TIDD).
Outcome: HB 26 was tabled and died in the House Local Government, Land Grants & Cultural Affairs Committee.
G. Andrés Romero
Natural Resources & Lands Protection more
Summary: HB 265 offered technical fixes to the Natural Lands Protection Act and Natural Heritage Conservation Act to allow state agencies to directly acquire and manage lands, and conservation and restoration-focused nonprofits to apply directly for restoration and conservation funding.
Outcome: HB 265 passed the House 40-29, but died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Wildlife Conservation & Public Safety Act more
Summary: SB 32 bans the use of non-essential traps, snares and wildlife poisons on public lands in New Mexico.
Outcome: SB 32 passed the Senate 23-16 and the House 35-34. The bill was signed by the Governor on April 5, 2021.
Roberto J. Gonzales
Brenda G. McKenna
Use of Water for Oil & Gas Operations more
Summary: SB 86 would have made it illegal for oil and gas operators to spill produced water, wastewater produced in oil extraction.
Outcome: SB 86 passed the Senate Conservation Committee but died on the calendar of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Antoinette Sedillo Lopez
Prohibit New Fracking Licenses more
Summary: SB 149 would have halted the issuing of new state fracking permits.
Outcome: SB 149 passed the Senate Conservation Committee but died on the calendar of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Antoinette Sedillo Lopez
Patricia Roybal Caballero
Environmental Rights, CA more
Summary: SJR 3 would have created a constitutional right to a clean and healthy environment for the people of New Mexico
Outcome: SJR 3 passed the Senate Rules Committee, but died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Antoinette Sedillo Lopez
William P. Soules
Joanne J. Ferrary
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.