Luján Legislation to Strengthen Land Grant Communities’ Rights Receives Key Committee Hearing
Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining held a hearing on legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) to provide greater consultation between the federal government and land grant communities. The Land Grant-Mercedes Traditional Use Recognition and Consultation Act recognizes community land grants as an important part of the culture and history of the State of New Mexico and requires the consideration of Historical Traditional Uses in federal land management planning.
As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives during the 116th Congress, Senator Luján unanimously passed similar legislation through the House to make it easier for land grant-mercedes to work with federal land management agencies. The legislation also requires the federal government to provide guidance on any permit requirements for qualified land grant-mercedes and traditional uses, including for routine maintenance, minor improvements, and major improvements.
“For generations, land grant communities have been stewards of our land and play a vital role in our New Mexico’s history and culture. These communities deserve the respect of the federal government, and their voices must be heard on federal land management plans,” said Luján. “I’m glad that this legislation received a key hearing in the Senate, and I will continue working to strengthen land grant communities’ rights.”
“The New Mexico Land Grant Council is pleased that Senate Bill 2708 has been heard before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and is one step closer to becoming law. This Act will provide an opportunity for land grant-merced communities to access and utilize needed natural resources located on their former common lands now managed by the Federal Government,” said Juan Sánchez, Chair of the New Mexico Land Grant Council.
“Land Grants in New Mexico are pleased to learn that the Land Grant-Mercedes Traditional Use Recognition and Consultation Act received a hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Access to federal lands for traditional uses and the ability to actively consult with Federal Land Management agencies on natural resource management will be a positive step in helping to prevent future catastrophes like the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon wildfires,” said Andrea Padilla, President of the New Mexico Land Grant-Merced Consejo.
U.S. Representative Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.) introduced the legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives. U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representative Melanie Stansbury (D-N.M.) are original co-sponsors.