Santa Fe County commissioners on Tuesday postponed a vote on a resolution to support turning La Bajada Mesa into a national monument after dozens of residents spoke out about the matter, saying such a designation could either be a boon or unnecessary government intervention that would restrict its use, not improve upon it.
The residents, many of whom live in and around La Bajada, long considered the unofficial entrance to Santa Fe, either warned the County Commission that there's no turning back once the federal government gets involved or, conversely, praised the county for the initiative, saying it could mean big dollars if the land were so lucky to be designated "La Bajada Mesa National Monument."
"Everybody likes a national monument," said one man, adding that visitors are liable to stay longer in Santa Fe with one nearby.
Another man, a La Cieneguilla resident, was angry that nobody with the county ever came knocking on his door to tell him about the proposal.
In all, the land consists of 128,000 acres, stretching from the mesa south to Cerrillos Hills Park, north to the Santa Fe River Basin and west to the Rio Grande.
The resolution, introduced by Liz Stefanics and Robert Anaya, says protecting federal land in New Mexico is important because it's responsible for 30 million visitors to the state, 68,000 jobs and $6 billion.
The proposal comes after the commission denied Buena Vista Estates Inc. permission to mine, blast and crush basalt on 50 acres of land, but the company has filed a lawsuit, appealing the county's actions, calling the move illegal and unconstitutional.