DOI announces plans to withdraw lands near Placitas from mineral leasing, including gravel mining

The U.S. Department of the Interior has proposed withdrawing more than 4,000 acres of land managed by the Bureau of Land Management near Placitas from mineral leasing for up to 50 years. The area includes about 3,000 acres known as Buffalo Tract. According to a press release, this move will help “safeguard sacred Tribal lands, boost important local recreation opportunities, and support wildlife habitat connectivity” by preventing new mining claims or oil and gas leasing. The land in question is considered sacred to the Pueblos of San Felipe and Santa Ana and is also a popular destination for hiking, camping, sightseeing and hunting near Albuquerque. It has drawn the interest of gravel mining companies, which prompted calls to protect it.

State remains silent on lead poisoning data

In December, Reuters published a map on childhood lead poisoning across the nation. The story and accompanying map, “Off the Charts: The thousands of U.S. locales where lead poisoning is worse than Flint,” looked at where children were tested for lead and how many had high levels of the metal in their blood. Severe lead poisoning can lead to seizures, coma and death, according to the Centers for Disease Control. For children, there is no such thing as a safe exposure to lead, which causes permanent neurological damage and behavioral disorders. Even though lead paint and lead additive in gasoline were banned decades ago, the ongoing Flint, Michigan emergency highlighted that lead poisoning is still a problem in the United States.

Bill would allow wild horse removals

David Robbins lives 200 paces from a rectangular yellow sign that informs drivers passing through Alto in southeast New Mexico of the presence of wild horses. He says people stop to take pictures of the animals, which he says don’t pose a threat to the community. Some Alto residents disagree and say they need a legal means to get rid of the horses. Under proposed legislation, Senate Bill 126, the state Livestock Board would have the authority to remove wild or abandoned horses from private property and sell them at auction if unclaimed. The bill highlights a debate that has echoed in the West in recent years.