Thursday, March 04, 2010


I am getting very frustrated with the Department of Interior's inertia on finding good state level directors for the Bureau of Land Management.  Many of the directors who were appointed by the bush administration and who willfully carried out suspect land, oil and gas transactions are still sitting pretty.  We are now 14 months into the new administration and there seems to be little movement in bringing on new people.  I am being told that there is just not enough talent within the Bureau to do so.  In the meantime some of these bush people continue to block changes that have been initiated by Secretary Ken Salazar.  If there is not talent within BLM then Salazar should start looking outside to other federal agencies that have talented and untainted employees who could do the jobs.  These are not easy jobs but they are important ones for the health of the western landscapes we love.

In the meantime New Mexico State Land Commissioner Pat Lyons suspect land swaps with wealthy ranchers are now the topic of Supreme Court deliberations.  I don't know what the outcome of the arguments by the Attorney General will be, but I can tell you Lyons has done a great disservice to the people of New Mexico by trading off some of the best hunting areas that northern New Mexicans have.  Major constitutional changes must be instituted so Land Commissioners like Lyons can't unilaterally do this kind of thing again.  Of course, the people who own the land office, the oil and gas boys, miners and ranchers, will fight this tooth and nail.  When I suggested this some time ago Lyons stood up at an oil and gas convention and said, "Baca wants to take away your land office."


Anonymous said...

Mr. Baca

As a former land commissioner, you should understand the fiduciary responsibility of the Commissioner is to the beneficiaries, not the people of New Mexico. Providing hunting areas at less than .03 per acre is obviously not in the best interest of the beneficiaries. Blocking up large tracts makes it possible for a future commissioner to actually publicly auction and lease these lands for hunting at a fair market value, not just what Game and Fish want to pay.

Jim Baca said...

This is the reigning wisdom at the land office. Money trumps everything. I can tell you however that the Land Office is not getting the best deal they can on this land since it was not properly auctioned in my view.