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Local Leagues in New Mexico


Interview of State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn Nov. 13, 2017

Also present: Assistant Commissioners Kristen Haase and Kris McNeil.

LWV Members: Judy Williams, Barbara Calef, Chris Furlanetto, Ann Coulston, Jody Larson

Dunn presented a PowerPoint with State Trust history, explanation of funds, beneficiaries, and projects. The Land Ordinance of 1785 established a system dividing the states and territories into townships composed of 36 sections. At New Mexico statehood four sections of each township were put into a trust to be maintained for the benefit of educational and other institutions. Dunn pointed out that there are no trust lands on the land grants. Each section is allocated to a specific beneficiary. Those with more productive lands receive more money. Early in the state’s history land was sold to provide necessary funding for infrastructure. Now land is rarely sold; sales or leases must be done at public auction. The SLO has obtained Garrett’s Desert Inn in a trade for the old Dixon apple orchard with Cochiti Pueblo. The Inn will not be sold, but has been leased and will be remodeled. (The winning bidder was subsequently disqualified.)

By law there is an oil and gas lease sale every third Tuesday. Leases are for 5 years, but the lease is continued after that time so long as it is productive. The sales have increased since being conducted on the internet rather than in house.

Dunn made the following points:

Re transfer of Federal public lands to the state:

A different entity could be set up to lease the minerals; this is not covered by the NM Constitution.

Funds from the trust lands comprise 1/3 of the education budget ($2.6 billion.)

Other issues he mentioned:

Up: LWVNM Study: Transfer of Federal Public Lands