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DATE: May 24, 2023



Joey Keefe, Assistant Commissioner of Communications



Commissioner Garcia Richard Testifies on Proposed BLM Rule to Prioritize Health of Public Lands to U.S. House Subcommittee
Proposed rule would clarify conservation as a “use” of public lands


SANTA FE, N.M. – New Mexico Commissioner of Public Lands Stephanie Garcia Richard testified today to the U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations regarding a rule proposed by the Bureau of Land Management to consider “conservation” a public land use and prioritize the health and ecosystems of those lands. Commissioner Garcia Richard’s testimony today focused on the fragmented nature of public lands in New Mexico, and how conservation leasing could be on par with the State Land Office’s approach to honor its mission to earn money for school and other institutions while maintaining the health of public lands for the benefit of future generations.

Excerpt of Commissioner Garcia Richard’s Testimony:

“Our ability to continue to generate money for education is directly tied to the health and the productivity of state lands. Conservation leasing must be part of a balanced portfolio of uses as we work to ensure the health and resiliency of our public lands for current and future generations.

“I would also like to emphasize that this rule isn’t about “taking public lands away.” It is about explicitly allowing another type of use, which can often occur alongside other lands uses. There may be times where various uses are incompatible, but there are also going to be many instances where there are not any conflicts.

“Lastly, the rule recognizes the importance of making sound management decisions based on science and incorporating Indigenous Knowledge shared by Tribal communities. The pressing challenges of climate change cannot be understated. We need more resilient lands and ecosystems. And to get there, we should learn from our traditional and Tribal communities.”

Read the full testimony here.

Watch a recording of the hearing here.

Commissioner of Public Lands Stephanie Garcia Richard has overseen the New Mexico State Land Office since 2019. In that time the agency has raised more than $5 billion for New Mexico public schools, hospitals, and universities. 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 State Land Office has a dual mandate to use state trust land to financially support vital public institutions, while simultaneously working to protect the land for future generations.