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Tea-baggers weren't the only onesprotesting yesterday. The flap over an alleged land swap in the White (or White's, as some call it) Peak area of northern New Mexico continued most of the day outside the Roundhouse with fiery speeches by stakeholders, politicians and plenty of burly-looking men in hunting fatigues.
Video, more photos and some interesting land-use ideas are after the jump.
One of the more emphatic speakers at yesterday's rally was Archie Velarde from Arroyo Seco, who says people who live near White Peak are incensed about the land deal:
After a series of cheers to take back New Mexico's public land and promises to "tell [Land Commissioner Patrick Lyons] to go home, because this is our home!" the protest fizzled, and Velarde joined Santa Fe County Commissioner hopeful Paul White and State Land Commissioner candidate Ray Powell inside. Though the complaint about the White Peak swap doesn't seem to have changed much since SFReeper.com covered it in November and December, the upshot is that Velarde and others are finally looking at alternatives to selling the state trust lands to the highest (or only, in this case) bidder.
"What we need for that land is economic development," Velarde tells SFR. His plan for White Peak includes joint ownership of the land (formerly a patchwork of private ranches and public land used for recreation) by the City of Española and Santa Fe County, with income from said development to establish college scholarships or contribute to education funds. Still, what exactly Velarde means by "development" seems hazy.
White, for his part, wants some of the disputed land to become a community farm that would double as a sort of sustainable-living learning lab—something Powell, who's been vocal on the White Peak issue, says he worked on when he was Land Commissioner (1993-2002). Reinvesting revenue from public lands into education and stopping the White Peak deal are two of Powell's campaign promises.
Another consistent voice on the White Peak deal has been Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, who says from the attention Attorney General Gary King is giving to White Peak, a lawsuit from the AG seems "likely." The main problem, both Egolf and Powell told SFR, is less about how the land is used than it is about the deal's lack of transparency.