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Cibola Beacon: It’s Official - City Has Access to BLM Land

CIBOLA COUNTY – “More than eight years ago we asked for access,” said Mayor Martin Hicks at the beginning of an official right-of-way signing ceremony on Monday. “Fourteen months ago Senator [Martin] Heinrich became involved and things really started moving. It’s amazing what happens when you get the right people involved and when you work together for what is best for the community.”

Early last month, the City received notice from the Bureau of Land Management their request of right-of-way to land between Roosevelt Avenue and College Boulevard alongside the Grants Canyon Arroyo was approved. The land is owned by the BLM but is managed by the U.S. Forest Service.

Mayor Hicks proudly announced the approval during a recent city council meeting. Since being elected to the council and now mayor, Hicks has consistently emphasized the need of maintaining and cleaning the arroyos in order to prevent flooding.

“First of all,” said Hicks as he opened the signing ceremony on Tuesday, Oct. 20, “I thank God, my Lord and Savior, for his guidance. I must acknowledge him first.”

Hicks went on in offering special thanks to Katie Richardson of Senator Heinrich’s office, and BLM District Manager Danita Burns for their assistance in gaining right-of-way access. And, of course, the mayor specially thanked Heinrich.

Attending the ceremony were officials from a variety of governmental agencies, including Grants/Cibola County School Superintendent Dr. Marc Space, Cibola County Manager Tony Boyd and Mt. Taylor District Ranger Alvin Whitehair.

“It’s all about cooperation,” said Hicks, “and the intestinal fortitude to not give up when you believe something is right for the community.”

Mayor Hicks wanted access to the land to widen the arroyo as it is on the opposite of the bridge, south. Currently, the arroyo is nearly 100 ft. wide on the south side and only 60 ft. wide on the north side, of which it narrows to maybe only 15 ft. wide between Roosevelt Avenue and College Boulevard. “The arroyo is way to narrow between the roads for the water that comes rushing down from Mt. Taylor,” said Hicks. “That is why in year’s past it floods in that area of Roosevelt Avenue. Widening the arroyo won’t solve all the flooding issues we have when we get hit with a 50- or 100-year storm, but it definitely will help.”

His request was denied for nearly eight years, making the signing ceremony on Tuesday a “very special” moment for the first-term mayor.

Burns echoed the mayor’s thoughts of working together. However, she added, “It’s nice to be recognized, but understand, we are public servants. Working together and getting things done for communities is what we do.”

Heinrich via-email said, “Public land issues are often complex, and finding paths forward often requires patience and close collaboration. Mayor Hicks and BLM District Manager Burns worked diligently together to create common ground and common sense solutions.”

During the ceremony, Mayor Hicks noted the City is now focused on assisting the County in gaining BLM owned land near Milan for a full service shooting range facility.

Nearly forty people attended the signing ceremony. Refreshments were provided after Hicks and Burns officially signed the right-of-way access documents.

The mayor said City workers will start widening the arroyo soon and he expects work to be complete by year’s end.