Letter to the Editor (08/14/14)

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Opposed to Army taking land

I am a rancher in Central New Mexico with Bureau of Land Management (BLM) grazing leases that adjoin my deeded lands. I have lived on the ranch for 19 years. This land is part of the Northern Extension of the White Sands Missile Range.
The U.S. House has passed Bill 4435, Section 2941 which would transfer the management of the BLM lands in the northern extension to management by the Army. The bill awaits action by the Senate.
I think this transfer is a very bad idea for New Mexico and vigorously oppose the effort for several reasons.
The BLM mission is to “sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.” The Department of Defense mission is to “provide the military forces needed to deter war and to protect the security of our nation.” While I support the mission of the DoD, it is much different than the BLM mission and could turn the pristine high desert of the northern extension into a battle preparation zone.
The value of our deeded lands is partially calculated on the opportunity to graze BLM lands. Changing management of the leases seriously jeopardizes the value of our investments.
The BLM promotes wildlife preservation, while Army activities are inconsistent with the needs of wild animals.
Another reason not to change managers is that this almost 500 square miles of BLM lands, including a Wilderness Study Area with a wild horse herd, is a special place in New Mexico that is a treasure for all public land lovers.
I ask that you oppose the transfer of BLM lands to the Army.
Sincerely,

Keith Banks
San Antonio