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Heinrich, Stansbury Lead Introduction Of Buffalo Tract Protection Act

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representative Melanie Stansbury (D-N.M.) introduced the Buffalo Tract Protection Act to withdraw four parcels of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands in southern Sandoval County, including the Buffalo Tract and the Crest of Montezuma, from any mineral development, including gravel mining. U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representatives Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.) and Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) are original cosponsors.

“The surrounding community is united in their opposition to gravel mining on these public lands that serve as critical wildlife connections between the Sandia Mountains to the south and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the north,” said Heinrich, member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “I’ve expressed to my colleagues in the past that a vote to advance this legislation represents a vote for the Pueblo of Santa Ana, the Pueblo of San Felipe, the people of Placitas, Merced De Comunidad De San Antonio De Las Huertas land grant, and everyone in this community who have worked so hard to craft this legislation for more than a decade now. I’m confident this is the Congress the New Mexico delegation comes together and successfully moves this legislation across the finish line.”

“The protection of New Mexico’s land and water is integral to our cultures, ways of life, and the protection of our natural resources,” said Stansbury, member of the House Natural Resources Committee. “Working collaboratively with our Tribal and Pueblo communities, residents of Sandoval County, and local stakeholders who have overwhelmingly voiced their concerns about mining on culturally and ecologically sensitive lands, I am proud to re-introduce the Buffalo Tract Protection Act to protect the sacred and ancestral lands of San Felipe Pueblo and Santa Ana Pueblo, safeguard the health of our communities, and preserve our ecosystems for generations to come.”

Senator Heinrich first introduced the legislation with then-U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) in 2016 after working with local stakeholders and the community to find a solution that would protect public health and the many traditional uses of these public lands. Representative Stansbury began leading the House bill when she joined Congress in 2021.

“For many New Mexicans, public lands are sacred and a vital resource to our local communities. Preserving and protecting our public lands are crucial to maintaining our way of life,” said Luján. “This legislation addresses the concerns of rural, Tribal, and traditional communities and will protect New Mexicans from the negative impacts of gravel mining to preserve our landscapes and wildlife for generations to come."

“New Mexicans understand how important it is to protect our public lands - the places where our cultural history runs deep, wildlife roam, and our kids explore,” said Leger Fernández, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Indian and Insular Affairs. “I am proud to support Senator Heinrich and Representative Stansbury’s Buffalo Tract Protection Act that responds clearly to the concerns of the community and protects our lands for future generations.”

In order to protect these communities from the negative impacts of a gravel mine on this public land, the Buffalo Tract Protection Act would:

  • Permanently withdraw four parcels of BLM lands, including the Buffalo Tract and the Crest of Montezuma, from any mineral development, including gravel mining;
  • Maintain the authority of the BLM to sell, lease, or exchange the surface rights to the parcels; and
  • Ensure that if the surface rights are sold, leased, or exchanged, the mineral rights will remain under federal management and will remain withdrawn from development.

The Buffalo Tract Protection Act has been endorsed by the Santa Ana Pueblo, San Felipe Pueblo, Land Use Protection Trust, New Mexico Wild, Eastern Sandoval Citizens Association, Sundance Mesa Homeowners Association, La Mesa Homeowners Association, Anasazi Homeowners Association, Pathways: Wildlife Corridors of NM, and Sandoval County Commission.


Heinrich Background:   

Stansbury Background: