New Mexico Legislator Works To Save Lands From Wolves, Weeds, And Water Bugs

Henry Lamb, executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation Organization

By Henry Lamb


Hollow Rock, TN (PANS) For more than a decade, the federal government has found new ways to control the use of land, both private and public. So-called "public" land is supposed to be for the use of the public. For most of the last century, the principle of "multiple use" guided the land use policies on land owned by the federal government.

The Wilderness Act of 1964 set aside nine million acres of land to be forever held as wilderness, so "posterity could see what our founders had to conquer," according to statements made by politicians at the time. The remaining federal estate, aside from national parks and wildlife areas, was to be used in way that provided benefits to the public from mining, logging, grazing, and other uses.

With the rise of the modern environmental movement, which was hijacked by a leadership drenched in "deep ecology," the concept of "multiple use" was replaced by the concept of "no use" by humans.

Dozens of well-planned strategies have been implemented to drive people off the land with a long-term plan to restore at least half the land area of the United States to pristine wilderness, as it was before Columbus sailed the ocean blue. The Wildlands Project, though denied by most federal agencies, has become the policy blueprint for land use policy.

The Endangered Species Act has been a vital weapon in the arsenal of the no-use advocates. By designating a bug or a plant as "endangered," the federal government is able to dictate the activities that can, and cannot occur on "public" land.

Reintroduction of the wolf is perhaps the most sinister of the strategies used to rid rural areas of people. The ravenous beasts slaughter cattle and sheep, as well as elk, deer, and other game. And wolves tend to multiply with enthusiasm.

Despite the objections of the landowners, ranchers, hunters, and other resource users, the wilderness advocates have prevailed. Wolves are, indeed, multiplying across the west, and are wreaking havoc among the people who must contend with their insatiable appetites.

New Mexico is one of at least three states that are attempting a new strategy to protect their citizens from the federal government's insistence on returning the nation to pre-Columbian wilderness.

New Mexico state Representative Daniel R. Foley has introduced HB 267, a modest bill that may be monumental in the struggle for saving the land for use by humans. The bill takes a new approach by declaring the state's authority to manage its own wildlife.

Historically, states have had the authority to regulate every aspect of hunting wildlife within the state. This bill builds upon that authority, and declares that the state, alone, will regulate the species within the state. Sections B and C declare:

B. For the purposes of mitigating detrimental impacts to New Mexico from the introduction of a wildlife species, including endangered species, that have been or may be introduced, planted or propagated in the state by a person, including a federal agency, the commission shall:

(1) adopt rules to prohibit the introduction, reintroduction, propagation or management of a wildlife species into New Mexico by a person, including a federal agency, other than the department of game and fish;

(2) seek reimbursement or compensation for any damages to New Mexico wildlife or wildlife habitat caused by a species, including an endangered species, introduced into New Mexico pursuant to federal mandate or programs;

(3) except for damages eligible for compensation from the big game depredation damage fund, assist a landowner, lessee or outfitter, whose property or livelihood is being damaged by an endangered species introduced into New Mexico by a federal agency, to obtain reimbursement or compensation from the federal government; and

(4) remove the species introduced into New Mexico by the federal government.

C. The state game commission shall notify all:

(1) federal agencies, whose duties directly affect wildlife, public lands or the environment, that New Mexico has sole jurisdiction over all wildlife in the state and will exercise exclusive management;

(2) federal agencies that New Mexico prohibits officers or employees of the federal government from managing wildlife or from interfering with the department of game and fish; and

(3) county sheriffs that all wildlife violations are to be investigated by the department of game and fish and New Mexico law enforcement personnel and not federal agencies.

This bold adventure in the exercise of the Tenth Amendment will not be well received in Washington, nor in the Governor's Mansion since Bill Richardson moved in. Nevertheless, it is a valid approach to retaining the state's right to exercise authority not granted to the federal government by the U.S. Constitution, and therefore, retained by the state.

Both Montana and Wyoming are considering a similar bill. If enough states rise up and exert their Tenth Amendment right, Washington will have to listen. Ultimately, this issue will likely be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court, where it will be fascinating to see whether or not the Tenth Amendment means what it says.

Unless there are enough legislators with backbone sufficient to challenge the feds, the case will never get to the Supremes, and mere humans will continue to be pushed aside for the benefit of wolves, weeds, and water bugs.

Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation Organization (ECO) at,

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