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Letter: Don't let up in the public land fight

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By Max O. Trujillo II

On behalf of the hundreds of interested people whom I have had the pleasure of working beside on the protest to what we define as an assault on the people of New Mexico, I would like to thank Attorney General King and his office, and the New Mexico Supreme Court for taking legal action against Public Land Commissioner Patrick Lyons and his office. We the sportsmen and women anticipate that justice will be served and that the wisdom of the Supreme Court will prevail over these inequitable and unjust transactions proposed by the public land commissioner, and these four private ranches who will profit millions of dollars through their hunting enterprises while the 22 beneficiaries of these portions of state trust lands will have to divide a net gain to the land office of $1,700 between them should these ridiculous exchanges be allowed.

Brian Henington from the land office states that should the Supreme Court rule in favor of the attorney general, doubt will be cast on other land exchanges they have done in the past in which they followed the same process. If this is the case, then they deserve to be brought under fire for their inequitable treatment of the people and the misuse of the power we bestowed upon them by electing them. A quote by Clifford Pinchot says, “There is no hunger like land hunger, and no object for which men are more ready to use unfair and desperate means than the acquisition of land.” Truer words were never spoken than these relative to the exchange between Public Land Commissioner Lyons and his buddies.  

I have had the pleasure of working alongside former Land Commissioner Ray Powell on this exchange, and to his recollection, the process in which these lands are being traded has never before been used. I would add that if this exchange was in the best interest of the people of New Mexico and the beneficiaries of the trust, why are so many people violated and insulted by the commissioner? If this exchange was so good for everyone, why is there 97 percent opposition in comments to the land office? Are Commissioner Lyons and his counterparts in the transaction wiser and smarter than the people? I think not.

We are tired of the threats and the insults coming from the land office and the four ranchers who encompass the Whites Peak area. The people of northern New Mexico have extremely strong connections to the land and for centuries have respected, used, and taken care of it while benefiting from its bounty. Whites Peak is no different as the people of New Mexico have used this area for generations and built bonds to family, friends and to the land.

This battle is not over, and we need to persist in our support of the attorney general and cooperate with each other until justice is served. We need to be adamant about keeping up to date and informed about the happenings that affect our land. We need to make sure that rogue politicians do not squander and compromise it so that our grandchildren and great grandchildren can make their annual treks up to the peak and commune with each other as we have for generations. I ask all parties opposed to this exchange to not relent in the fight.

We must do everything possible to keep our public land public.

Max Trujillo

Las Vegas