Public Lands


New Mexicans support a strong and balanced economy – we support economic growth, but we also want to protect the pristine landscapes that we all cherish.

We know how to balance economic development with wilderness and recreation; we’ve been doing that for decades. Public lands are a key part of this balanced approach, and the development that occurs on state and federal lands in New Mexico is vital for the state economy.

For example, New Mexico is now the third largest oil producing state, and it ranks in the top ten for natural gas production. Most of this production occurs on state and federal lands, which means the more than 100,000 jobs supported by oil and natural gas in New Mexico are dependent on responsible use of our public lands.

Coal, potash, gravel, and other mining & minerals from state lands generated royalties and rentals of approximately $18 million in fiscal year 2018. Royalties from oil and natural gas totaled more than $679 million. Grazing, geothermal energy production, and various business rentals also generate millions of public dollars each year. These revenues are deposited into the Land Grand Permanent Fund or Land Maintenance Fund, and then flow primarily to New Mexico’s public schools and universities.

Renewable resources like wind and solar also pay for leases and rights of way on state lands, among other taxes and fees. At the end of fiscal year 2018, there were 15 active or pending utility-scale wind and solar projects in New Mexico, which will traverse more than 100,000 acres of state lands once completed. Over their full lease terms, the projects will generate more than $200 million in state revenues.

Even those areas with minimal development can improve the economy. The outdoor recreation industry in New Mexico supports approximately 99,000 jobs and generates hundreds of millions of dollars in state and local tax revenue. Much of this economic activity comes from public lands, including our many state parks, national forests, and attractions like Carlsbad Caverns National Park and White Sands National Monument.

When it comes to public lands, we should pursue economic prosperity through responsible development, which is exactly what we’ve proven we can do.