Land Grant Interim Committee members chat during a July 2 tour of parts of the Anton Chico land grant. Courtesy photo
A Pecos River diversion dam visited by Land Grant Interim Committee members July 2. Courtesy photo
Land Grant Interim Committee members enjoy a July 2 tour of parts of the Anton Chico Land Grant. Courtesy photo
Rep. Christine Chandler traveled to Anton Chico July 1 with fellow members of the New Mexico Land Grant Interim Committees for a two-day meeting. Courtesy photo
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Members of the New Mexico Land Grant Interim Committee including Rep. Christine Chandler met at the Anton Chico Economic Development Center July 1 and toured parts of the 378,537-acre Anton Chico Land Grant July 2.
The Interim Committee meeting was the second one for 2019 with a third slated at the Cristobal de la Serna Land Grant in September.
Chandler said Spanish and Mexican land grants are unique to western states whose histories are tied to Spain and Mexico. She said there are both individual land grants and communal grants. Communal land grants are recognized in state law as having political subdivision status with the authority and responsibility of self-governance within parameters defined by law, she added.
“Today’s New Mexico land grants vary significantly in terms of geographical size, and they approach self-governance with various priorities. Most are focused on maintaining their historic culture and others are also interested in using their lands to promote economic initiatives for the benefit of their respective communities,” she said.
Chandler said she thoroughly enjoyed the two-day meeting.
She said legislators heard presentations on the challenges facing the Anton Chico Land Grant, especially the regulation of mining of decorative rock; the University of New Mexico law school’s land grant studies and tuition waiver program; and strategies for agricultural based economic initiatives such as value added hemp production and a young farmers mentoring program.
Chandler noted that she asked to serve on the Committee because the land grants are a unique and important part of New Mexico’s history and culture, and there are land grants within District 43.
“I want to support efforts to sustain the vibrancy of land grants in my district as well as those in other parts of the state,” she said.
Several bills affecting land grants were passed during this year’s legislative session including SB 244 which increased the amount of free and/or low-cost legal services for land grants, acequias and colonias. Another bill, SB 17 allows land grant boards of trustees to approve their comprehensives themselves instead of having to have them approved by the Department of Finance And Administration.
The goals of the Interim Committee include strengthening the governance capacity of the land grants and addressing economic development, land and water issues.
Located in Guadalupe County, six miles west of US 84 near the Pecos River, Anton Chico has had a post office authorized since 1872. The petition for the land grant was made in 1822 and approved in 1824 by the Mexican Congress.