FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 22, 2021
Angie Poss, Assistant Commissioner of Communications
State Land Office Launches Cultural Resources Office
SANTA FE, NM – Commissioner of Public Lands Stephanie Garcia Richard today announced the creation of the first ever Cultural Resources Office (CRO) within the New Mexico State Land Office (SLO). The mission of the CRO will be to assist Commissioner Garcia Richard as she strives to be a good steward of state trust land for beneficiaries in a way that honors and respects the heritage of New Mexico’s tribes, nations, and pueblos.
The CRO will be comprised of four current State Land Office staff who have been reorganized within the agency. Rachael Lorenzo, who previously served as the Land Office’s Assistant Commissioner of Engagement and Tribal Liaison, will take on the newly created role of Assistant Commissioner of Cultural Resources. Along with Lorenzo, three staff archaeologists will round out the Cultural Resources team.
Assistant Commissioner Lorenzo and their staff will be involved at the front end of projects and leases in an effort to help Divisions produce archaeological reports prior to surface disturbing activity.
“This is not just a re-organization of a handful of our staff. It is a re-organization of our way of thinking and doing business in an effort to be cognizant of the history of the people who occupied state trust land before it was what it is now,” Commissioner Garcia Richard said. “New Mexico’s Indigenous populations deserve to know that we are taking the appropriate steps to protect areas and artifacts that hold cultural significance to them and to their ability to protect their way of life for future generations.”
The Cultural Resources Office will consult with tribes, nations, and pueblos when culturally sensitive findings appear in archaeological reports and work with Tribal Historic Preservation Officers and other appropriate staff to ensure preservation before any decisions are made on ground disturbance of state trust land.
“I am proud to be leading this team – we all share a goal and that is to incorporate the expertise and honor the heritage of our state’s tribes into land stewardship,” Assistant Commissioner Lorenzo said. “For too long, tribes have not had enough say in the stewardship of state trust land. That changes with Commissioner Garcia Richard.”
Formal notice of the creation of the CRO has been sent to the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department, the All Pueblo Council of Governors, as well as to the individual leadership of each of New Mexico’s tribes, nations, and pueblos.
Under the leadership of Commissioner of Public Lands Stephanie Garcia Richard, the New Mexico State Land Office has seen back-to-back years of revenue over $1 billion. Over 13 million acres of state trust land are leased for a variety of uses, including ranching and farming, renewable energy, business development, mineral development, and outdoor recreation. The money earned from leasing activity supports 22 beneficiaries – New Mexico public schools, seven universities and colleges, the School for the Deaf, the School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, three hospitals, water and land conservation projects, and public building construction and repair.