According to the NM Political Report, the four Democrats in New Mexico’s congressional delegation are pushing to have 4,200 acres of Bureau of Land Management land removed from mineral development, in particular gravel mining, in Sandoval County near Placitas, N.M. Rep. Melanie Stansbury introduced the Buffalo Tract Protection Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández and is also supported by two congressmen from California. On the Senate side, New Mexico’s senators, Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Luján, have co-sponsored the bill.
The Buffalo Tract and the Crest of Montezuma, which are included in the bill, are popular recreation areas and ancestral lands of the Pueblo of Santa Ana and the Pueblo of San Felipe. They also are close to residential areas and are important wildlife migration corridors. Recreational activities include hiking, off-highway vehicle use and recreational shooting.
Sandoval County is home to six gravel mines and future mining activities have some residents and Indigenous communities concerned. The area in question is within the BLM’s Rio Puerco Field Office, which released a draft resource management plan in 2012 that would allow for additional gravel mining.