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Cultural Properties Rule Proposal

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Cultural Properties Rule Change Proposal

As a key stakeholder of the New Mexico State Land Office (NMSLO), you have recently received a courtesy preview copy of our proposed Cultural Properties Rule (Rule). The draft Rule that you received is a pre-publication draft and is not meant to be shared with the general public at this time. 

As you may already know, the protection of cultural properties on state trust land is a top priority of Commissioner Garcia Richard’s. Earlier this year, we established a standalone Cultural Resources Office (CRO) to elevate the role of the archeology team within the agency, create more direct lines of communication with the Commissioner’s office, and position the agency to manage cultural resource and consultation efforts in a coordinated and responsive manner.

“Cultural Property” means a structure, place, site, object or resource having historic, archaeological, scientific, architectural, or other cultural significance. A cultural property includes a property listed on or eligible for inclusion on either the New Mexico register of cultural properties pursuant to the Cultural Properties Act, or listed on or eligible for listing on the national register of historic places pursuant to the National Historic Preservation Act, 16 U.S.C. Section 470.

This proposed Rule builds upon our cultural resources efforts by requiring that an archaeological survey be completed prior to any surface disturbing activity, such as the construction of roads and pipelines, oil and gas drilling, and other infrastructure development. The draft Rule is consistent with existing practices on federal lands and in most other states, and many NMSLO lessees already adhere to its requirements as a matter of practice.

By making survey requirements applicable across the board for projects, the Rule will ensure that cultural resource protections are enforceable, meaningful, and that there are appropriate avoidance and mitigation measures in place.

The draft Rule lays out specific procedures for implementing survey requirements and confirming that applicants understand their obligations to protect cultural properties before any work is done. Furthermore, because there are different statutory requirements that apply to various types of leasing activities, the Rule is tailored to reflect those legal distinctions.

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