LAS CRUCES, N.M. – Before merchants ready their wares for “Small Business Saturday” on November 25, they want the Trump administration to know that proposed changes to America’s national monuments could hurt their future profits. A letter from chambers of commerce and 600 rural businesses has been sent to National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, asking him to help protect their livelihoods by keeping the monuments intact. Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce president Carrie Hamblen says rural communities located near monuments benefit from dollars spent on tourism and outdoor recreation. “When you mess with one monument, you mess with all of them,” she says. “There are people who are traveling all over our great country to go to these national monuments and national parks.
It’s a typical Monday in this dusty New Mexico town 30 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. In a brightly lit classroom at Deming High School, Francisco Manuel Garcia Ruiz, a math teacher recruited from Spain, speaks in rapid Spanish to a group of sophomores. In a room across campus, Annabelle Carbajal, the district’s migrant student coordinator, looks out at the faces of students whose parents work in the nearby fields, telling them she’s there to help. This story originally appeared at High Country News and is reprinted with permission. This story is part of the State of Change project, produced by High Country News partnership with the Solutions Journalism Network.
In the West, minorities are helping boost populations in rural areas, including in New Mexico. That’s what a recent report by the independent research group Headwaters Economics found. Analysts looked at data from the U.S. Census Bureau and compared the populations and demographics of rural counties from 1980 to 2015. Nearly every county saw a growth in minority populations, echoing the shift in demographics of the nation as a whole. This trend is as pronounced in New Mexico, which already has among he lowest percentage of white non-Hispanic white populations, as in any other western state.
FARMINGTON, N.M. – The amount of royalties coal companies pay for mining on public lands amounts to taxpayers in New Mexico and across the country getting ripped off, according to a Sierra Club official. Robert Tohe, the Sierra Club’s organizing representative for its Dirty Fuels campaign, plans to testify today at a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) hearing in Farmington that seeks public comment on reforming the government’s coal leasing system. Tohe is a member of the Navajo Nation, where coal mining is a big part of the local economy. “These royalty rates are so low and haven’t changed in the past, and so now is the opportunity to revise this so that taxpayers get their fair share of these profits,” he states. Tohe points to a report from Headwaters Economics that shows that between 2008 and 2012, coal companies mined $913 million worth of coal on public lands in New Mexico and paid $46 million in royalties.