Heinrich Passes Buffalo Tract Protection Act Out Of Committee

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Dec. 12, 2019) – Today, the Buffalo Tract Protection Act, introduced by U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), was passed by a voice vote in a key legislative business meeting in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Senator Heinrich’s legislation, co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), would 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.

“The Crest of Montezuma and the Buffalo Tract are home to important ecosystems and have been used by communities along the Rio Grande Valley for centuries,” said Heinrich. “Numerous local residents have shared their concerns with me about the future of these lands and the potential damage that would result from gravel mining. Mineral development would negatively impact public health, quality of life, and water supplies. Today, we moved forward on legislation that strikes an appropriate balance and reflects carefully gathered input from local communities and stakeholders.”

In order to protect these communities from the negative impacts of a gravel mine on these 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surface rights are sold, leased, or exchanged, the mineral rights will remain under federal management and will remain withdrawn from development.

A copy of the bill is available HERE.