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BLM to offer September lease sale in New Mexico, prioritizes outdoor recreation

A three-state sale of federally-owned land to the oil and gas industry was scheduled for September, records show, with a public scoping period starting next month.

And it could open up more land in southeast New Mexico to drilling.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) September lease sale was announced last week, with public scoping – a period of time that allows the public to comment on the proposed parcels – running from April 1 to April 12.

The sale itself was “tentatively” scheduled for Sept. 5, read a BLM news release.

It features parcels of land proposed by the industry in New Mexico, Oklahoma and Kansas.

There 17 parcels nominated, accounting for 4,980 acres of federal mineral rights.

Most were in southeast New Mexico, where oil and gas boomed in the Permian and Delaware basins.

Three parcels were offered in Eddy County, with nine in Lea County and one each in McKinley and Chaves counties.

One parcel each was nominated in Coal and Major counties in Oklahoma, and one more was nominated in Greelye County, Kansas.

“The Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 and the Mineral Leasing Act for Acquired Lands of 1947, as amended, require the BLM to promote exploration and development of federal minerals,” read the release.

“Providing an opportunity for individuals and/or companies to lease identified federal mineral estate through a competitive lease sale process also meets the Department of the Interior’s goal of strengthening America’s energy independence.”

The sale’s announcement follows a March 22 order from U.S. Department of the Interior, adjusting how it evaluates federal land made available for sale to consider outdoor recreation, including hunting and fishing.

The order issued March 21 by Acting Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt calls on the BLM to appoint a lead staff member to work on prioritizing recreational access to federal land in all ongoing resource management plans.

The BLM was also tasked with coordinating with other federal, state or local agencies to ensure outdoor recreation is preserved during oil and gas leasing, while studying a lease’s impact on public recreational access.

“This order emphasizes the core principles of being a good neighbor to all of the Department’s neighbors – whether they are federal, state, county or local landowners,” read the order.

“This order ensures that recreational public access in an important value now and into the future as the Bureau of Land Management makes decisions involving the disposal or exchange of public lands.”

Such a philosophy of encouraging outdoor recreation was also embraced by the State of New Mexico during its recent 60-day legislative session that ended last week.

Senate Bill 462 was singed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to establish the New Mexico Division of Outdoor Recreation, while appropriating $1.5 million from the State General Fund to support the Division.

The bill also created a grant program to help New Mexico children engage with outdoor activities on state parks, trust land and other public lands and water ways.

“New Mexico has the greatest outdoor opportunities in the West and creating a focused office will attract new businesses and boost existing opportunities across the state,” said Lujan Grisham.

“…When we create a focused office to both attract new businesses and boost existing concerns, we will plant our flag alongside Colorado, Montana, Utah and others. And indeed, we have the potential to surpass them.”

Adrian Hedden can be reached at 575-628-5516, achedden@currentargus.com or @AdrianHedden on Twitter.

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©2019 the Carlsbad Current-Argus (Carlsbad, N.M.)

Visit the Carlsbad Current-Argus (Carlsbad, N.M.) at www.currentargus.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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