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Preliminary word from the Roundhouse has the Senate passing control of College of Santa Fe, word that I welcome. For 15 years, I’ve felt that this is a college town waiting to become itself and never understood why that wasn’t happening. Now, it can.
Indications are that Highlands University will create jobs, and other institutions in town will benefit a lot. Our future is green, clean industries here, and a university can focus a local economy of scale.
A university can integrate isolated artistic communities and, conceivably, the work of The School for Advanced Research into programs in the neighborhoods. It will offer lectures and performances. CSF is dynamic in writing, fine arts and photography now; no one suggests that that won’t continue.
As a ’60s kid, I’d delight in affordable psych and med clinics, legal aid offices, even rent collectives and controls. I suspect others in town concur. Universities used to facilitate those.
Highlands isn’t big enough to turn Santa Fe into an educational industrial park, but it can galvanize a community of active thought that can hear itself think. A university is the next logical step in the growth of our soil; let’s make sure our soil nurtures it.
In her examination of the State Land Office’s approach to protecting cultural resources, Laura Paskus suggests the difference between state and federal law is lesser protection of cultural resources on state trust lands than on federal lands.
Federal lands often are open to the public. The reverse is true for trust lands. My title, “Commissioner of Public Lands,” is misleading. In fact, these lands are not public but are held in trust and leased to generate revenue for public education.
Trust lands are leased for farming and ranching, energy production, and community and business development for the sole purpose of generating revenue for the schools and other trust beneficiaries—which during my tenure adds up to $3 billion.
Our valued lessees serve as site stewards, which includes preventing trespassers from causing significant surface damage and looting cultural resources. The Land Office has been working with its lessees to achieve a better understanding of these obligations, and a number of lessees have volunteered money out of their own foundations to facilitate stabilization and preservation projects.
Paskus also failed to note that the Land Office has an advisory committee for environmental and cultural resource issues, of which Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer Jan Biella is a member. Under the Cultural Properties Protection Act, the SHPO is responsible for establishing a system for professionally surveying cultural properties on trust lands.
As land commissioner, I have partnered with numerous agencies to implement the Galisteo Basin Archaeological Sites Protection Act; I am the only partner that committed funds to protect the 24 archaeological sites, totaling 4,591 acres, designated in the act. Furthermore, I have appropriated funds to stabilize and preserve various Navajo pueblito sites on trust lands.
Given former Land Commissioner Jim Baca’s criticism of Land Office practices, it should be mentioned that former Land Commissioner Bill Humphries initiated the hiring of an archeologist and other technical staff to facilitate environmental, watershed and rangeland protection. During my administration, the Land Office has preserved and expanded the scope of that work.
As for Baca’s proposed amendment of the New Mexico Constitution to install a supervisory commission to oversee the elected land commissioner, one already exists: the State Land Trusts Advisory Board.
The land commissioner is uniquely and specifically charged with managing the state’s trust lands for the benefit of the supported institutions. In proposing a constitutional amendment to make uncompensated cultural resource protection a recognized “beneficial use,” Baca betrays the beneficiaries he once pledged to support.
Over the last seven years, the Land Office has produced record revenues on a flat budget, but stock market turmoil and other factors recently have reduced the estimated value of the Land Grant Permanent Fund—entirely the product of revenues generated by the Land Office—from $10.7 billion to $7.9 billion. Further, the state’s General Fund revenues have been adversely affected by the recession and declining oil and gas prices. While reasonable efforts should be made to protect cultural resources on trust lands, proposals based on political grandstanding should not be permitted to interfere with the critical support that responsible productive use of trust lands provides.
Commissioner of Public Lands
Why is that a public official so incompetent as Pat Lyons does not get impeached? After viewing the gas-lease rape of northern New Mexico, I thought the clown would surely be booted out of office. Now reading Laura Paskus’ article on the way he has failed to adequately regulate and ensure the survival of antiquities, I am appalled. Why does New Mexico have to put up with such obvious incompetence?
As Jerry Garcia used to say, “Every silver lining’s got a touch of grey.” So it goes with the “cloud seeding” concept presented by Corey Pein in “Silver Lining." Pein rightly points out the sky-wide grey-area associated with high-altitude silver-iodide discharge. Here’s an overview of the specter’s hazy spectrum: We don’t know if it works, if it’s a form of stealing water from downwinders or, most importantly, if it’s safe.
Haven’t we learned enough from the unintended consequences of chemical fertilizers, mercury fillings and the spewing of greenhouse gases? Why make the people, animals, plants and soils of New Mexico a profit-making laboratory for a few smooth-talking, out-of-state entrepreneurs? How many generations from ours is it acceptable to start poisoning with toxic metals? And even if such schemes have no negative impacts, your article’s lead advocate admits that his multi-million-dollar industry “isn’t going to fix our water problems.”
We should put resources into low-tech ways of reaping existing precipitation. Passive water-harvesting techniques that store water in the soil, active water-harvesting systems that collect water in cisterns, wastewater-harvesting methods that treat and recycle water locally, and community water-harvesting projects that revive watersheds all have greater potential than hubristic ejaculations of silver iodide.
Santa Fe Permaculture
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