SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn says the state is losing potentially millions of dollars a year because military restrictions are preventing the leasing of state trust lands adjacent to White Sands Missile Range.
Dunn sent a letter to the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, saying public schools and other beneficiaries should be compensated if the U.S.. Defense Department is going to prevent the leasing of state trust land in the area.
In 2004, an agreement was reached with the Defense Department on restrictions and lease payments in call-up areas to the north and west of the range. That expired in 2006 and negotiations have been ongoing since then.
Range officials argue they don’t restrict use or prevent leasing of adjacent lands, but Dunn’s office contends the way the military uses the area creates a de facto prohibition.