The New Mexico Constitution states that “The legislature shall provide for control of pollution and control of despoilment of the air, water and other natural resources of the state, consistent with the use and development of these resources for the maximum benefit of the people.”
The constitutional directive includes the words “use” and “development” as equal parts of emphasis. These purposes include factors of business development for employment, income to the state from renewable and extractive industries, agricultural uses for food production, tourism development to provide economic stimulus, and, of course recreation for the citizens of the state for sporting uses. Nowhere does the Constitution place a priority of any use or development over another.
Yet, our state has seen a steady decline in multiple uses. This decline has damaged the sustainability of our renewable resources and diminished the ability of our citizens to benefit from the vast resources which are a blessing to New Mexico. This is nowhere more evident than our forests. Designations such as wilderness have prohibited uses by our people and placed the state resources at great risk from disasters and restricted opportunities to replenish and protect our natural resources. Nowhere has the state’s failure to act been more evident than during the Medio fire in the heart of House District 46. As we have suffered from poor air, views of our beautiful vistas cloaked in the dimness of smoke, threats to the quality of our water supply and devastation of wildlife whose homes have been destroyed, we have to ask: Does it have to be this way? Why can’t we prevent this?
The answer is how we permit our government to act. The Pecos Wilderness, with nearly a quarter of a million acres of forest, is a tinderbox of unmanaged litter waiting for the spark that sets it all off. Not only that, but forest service regulations prohibit management actions to reduce risks and even to fight fires. My response is simple. Allow the people of this state to participate in traditional activities. Allow New Mexicans to help in reduction of the fuel load. Allow the citizens to exercise their rights in management of the lands of this state to protect the multi-use purposes of the split estate and multiple uses of the natural resources of the state.
Proper management of the federal and state lands will provide for multiple aspects of our economy, protect and improve the quality and quantity of water supplying our river and stream systems, provide a diverse environment for the enrichment of our wildlife species and provide winter heat for our homes. New Mexico must get control of our public lands, and only legislative input can encourage and fund this immensely needed possibility to provide a better future for all New Mexicans.
Our governor and attorney general have proven their lack of concern for our people and our needs for sustenance from the great resources of the lands of the state. Their failure to protect the interests of New Mexicans in the recent WildEarth Guardians lawsuit with the Forest Service totally exhibits their intent to abandon the needs of the everyday citizens and to support the leftist exclusionary single use priorities that conflict with traditional uses enshrined in our history and culture. Many citizens of rural and Native American communities rely almost entirely on firewood for home heating needs and find themselves unnecessarily placed in a situation hazardous to their health and wellbeing due to a lack of understanding our elected representatives.
Our purposes must be to use our resource wisely, manage our renewable resources for sustainability, restore our lands after extraction of mineral resources and quit allowing special interests to limit our rights of multiple uses on split estate lands. We must deny the leftists’ efforts to manage our natural resources for single purposes. Concerted efforts by our legislature to provide input to planning processes will have a great impact on future resource management plans by state and federal agencies. Continuing down the worn-out path of single use restrictions currently in place damages the people of this state. No agency has ever considered those impacts on public welfare when formulating management plans.
We must insist, through our state government, speaking in a loud voice, that New Mexico will not allow the continued degradation of our environmental resources and our quality of life. We must reclaim our dignity, our respect for our land, our dedication to improve our quality of life for the current and future New Mexicans. Join me, and together we will Restore New Mexico.