House Natural Resources Committee Advances Luján Legislation To Recognize Traditional Land Uses

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, the House Natural Resources Committee advanced legislation introduced by Congressman Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), the U.S. House Assistant Speaker, to give land grant communities greater access to land within their historical boundaries while also promoting better consultation between the federal government and local stakeholders and recognizing the historical rights of land grant and acequia communities.

The Land Grant and Acequia Traditional Use Recognition Act recognizes the importance of land grants and acequias and ensures that the federal government recognizes the importance of these communal resources in New Mexico. In June, Congressman Luján testified from the Acequia de la Comunidad de Nambé in support of the legislation, speaking of the importance of New Mexico’s land grant-mercedes and acequias.

“I am proud that my colleagues on the House Natural Resources Committee took the important step of passing this legislation and recognizing the critical role that acequias and land grants play in our communities. Just a few weeks ago, I testified in support of this legislation from the Acequia de la Comunidad de Nambé, the acequia that I’ve spent years working alongside my neighbors and family members to maintain,” said Luján. “Now that this legislation has advanced from committee, I will continue fighting to get this legislation across the finish line in the House.

“The New Mexico Land Grant Council is pleased that the Land Grant and Acequia Traditional Use Recognition and Consultation Act (H.R. 3682) has been adopted by the House Natural Resources Committee and is being sent to the floor of United States House of Representatives for consideration. H.R. 3682 represents years of work between our land grant-merced communities, Congressman Luján’s Office and the entire the New Mexico Congressional Delegation,” said the New Mexico Land Grant Council. “Passage of this bill by the Natural Resources Committee is an important milestone on the path to restoring historic and culturally important uses to our communities. The recognition, in statute, of our traditional uses on our former land grant-merced common lands now managed by the federal government is long overdue and is an important first step in addressing longstanding injustices suffered by our communities.”

“The New Mexico Acequia Association supports the Land Grand and Acequia Recognition and Traditional Use Act as an affirmation of historic rights of acequias in relation to US forest lands. This historic legislation gives acequias a seat at the table with the US Forest Service through negotiated rulemaking and honors the contributions of acequia leaders who have advocated for generations for their land-based way of life,” said Paula Garcia, Executive Director of the New Mexico Acequia Association.