Latino Sportsmen Should Fight to Protect Our Public Lands

USFS PHOTO

USFS PHOTO

As we in New Mexico prepare for this year’s legislature, there are rumblings of a very dark and disturbing piece of legislation that is sure to surface this year again. In western states, there is a movement that is gaining some traction that should cause every sportsman and woman I know to stand up and fight. The Public Lands Transfer movement in western states is happening and the stakes have never been higher than now for sportsmen and women to stand up and speak up against this movement that could bring an end to all we hold sacred.

The movement started in Utah when a group of politicos decided that federal land could be better managed by individual states. The public land they would be demanding title to would include all National Forest land, BLM land and any other federal public land that is not a designated wilderness, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Refuge, National Park or National Monument. As disturbing as this is to me I thought I’d ask some of the area sportsmen and women to weigh in and share their thoughts regarding the loss of our federal public lands.

Gary Lopez, from Las Vegas, New Mexico says, “I can’t fathom the thought of a life with federal public lands. Places like Canjilon Lakes in North Central New Mexico, or Cabresto Lake near Questa, New Mexico are places I have returned to with my family every year to fish and camp and disconnect from my busy life.” He goes on to say, “I am ready to take up this fight to keep our public lands public.”

Leo Montoya, who has hunted from the northern border of New Mexico to the south, and from the east to the west says, “places like Holguin Mesa and Cruces Basin in the Carson National Forest are where some of the best memories and hunting experiences have happened for me and my friends and family. I would do anything to protect these places. I am willing to speak up to our legislators or whoever it takes so that my grandchildren have the same opportunity to enjoy these places as I have.” He went on to say, “even those of us who don’t hunt should be very concerned about losing this core cultural inheritance.”

It is amazing to me that in study after study that has been conducted regarding the western states taking control of federal public lands, what is revealed is that states would have to sell off large swaths of these lands, lease to energy developers, like oil and gas, and none of the states have budgets that could afford to battle catastrophic wildfires like we’ve seen over the past several years. The disturbing and diabolical ploy to privatize these lands through sale to the highest bidders has also been revealed in each of the states that are involved in this movement. This is the real end game. Clearly, if land transfers become a reality, everybody who loves public lands will lose. Generations to come will never know what it feels like to fish, hunt, camp, hike, and most of all, own and be a part of a heritage that is uniquely American.

Nuestra Tierra
Nuestra Tierra

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