OCTOBER 19, 2006



During the hearing held on September 26, 2006 in Las Cruces City Council Chambers, I expressed my strong concerns regarding the resolutions adopted by the Dona Ana County Commission and the councils representing the municipalities in Dona Ana County supporting the positions of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance following the release of Senator Domeniciís outline of a proposed Congressional bill designating certain areas in Dona Ana County for Wilderness designation, creating National Conservation Areas, and addressing the disposition of funds derived from sales of federal lands within the county.

My concerns were based on the fact that the resolutions were adopted without input from ranchers and other property owners.  During the September meeting Carol McCall responded to my comments and indicated that the resolutions have effectively been rescinded because Senator Domenici has requested input from the citizens of the community to develop a consensus regarding the issues in the proposed bill.  These hearings are intended to aid in the development of that consensus.

Notwithstanding the defacto recission of those resolutions, they nevertheless continue to exist as official endorsement of the Wilderness Alliance positions and are represented as such on the Wilderness Alliance website and in other documentation disseminated by the Wilderness Alliance.

A number of ranchers who would be affected by the issues have met and are in the process of developing positions and information that reflect positions that differ from those of the Wilderness Alliance.  I have assumed the unofficial position of coordinator of the ranchersí efforts.  I personally believe that ranchers are every bit as concerned about protecting the environment and characteristics of federal lands as the Wilderness proponents are, but we differ in how to best achieve those goals.  I have met with Nathan Small of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance on two occasions in the last few weeks. A meeting is expected in the near future with Mr. Small and Steve Capra, Executive Director of the organization and representatives of the rancher group.  It is my hope that we can identify areas of mutual concern and then arrive at some agreement with respect to how best meet those concerns.  Until that happens, I donít believe a consensus can be determined.  I further believe that the issues reflected in the Domenici proposal need to be resolved legislatively in the near future and not shelved   That is likely to happen if this thing develops into a fight between ranchers and wilderness proponents..

In view of what has transpired to date, I respectfully request that the County and the cities and towns of Las Cruces, Hatch, Mesilla, and Sunland Park rescind the earlier adopted resolutions in recognition of the need for new resolutions at an appropriate time following input from all affected people in the county.