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House panel rejects federal lands transfer study bill

A House committee has rejected a proposal to create a commission to study whether federal lands should be transferred to the state.

The House Judiciary Committee today tabled House Bill 291 on a bipartisan, 8-4 vote.

Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-Alamogordo, sponsored the legislation, which drew opposition from a range of public lands users and conservation groups.

“We should be in control of our own lands … managing them on more of a local level,” Herrell said.

She disputed the argumentĀ of opponents that transferring land to the state would lead to its being sold to private interests.

But critics of the bill said the transfer of federal lands was unworkable and unconstitutional.

Victor Reyes of Conservation Voters New Mexico said it would be “wasting our state agencies’ scarce time and resources” to study land transfers.