House Democrats and Community Leaders Give Voice to Land Grants and Acequias
Santa Fe, NM. - After meeting with land grant and acequia community leaders today, House Speaker Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe) announced important changes to House standing committees to elevate the voices and concerns of these communities. The new Rural Development, Land Grants, and Cultural Affairs Committee will be established in the coming session, and will be chaired by Representative Susan Herrera (D-Embudo).
Two other standing committees will also be newly titled: the Agriculture, Acequias, and Water Resources Committee and the Government, Elections, and Indian Affairs Committee. Together, these committees will respond effectively to the needs of land grant and acequia communities within the Legislature.
Majority Leader Javier Martínez (D-Albuquerque), Majority Whip Doreen Gallegos (D-Las Cruces), and Majority Caucus Chair D. Wonda Johnson (D-Church Rock) joined with colleagues in the House today to meet with land grant and acequia community leaders and receive input on policies to strengthen and protect these institutions into the future.
Statement of Speaker Brian Egolf:
"Land grants, acequias, and their contributions to our state have been critically important to me since the first day I was elected to the Legislature. I am grateful for the advice and input that we received today from land grant and acequia leaders. I am glad that we have charted a path forward which will result in a new committee structure that will both elevate land grant and acequia issues and bring positive change for every land grant heir and acequia parciante."
New Mexico Land Grant-Merced Consejo:
"The New Mexico Land Grant-Merced Consejo and land grant leaders throughout the state are pleased that the Majority Leadership in the House of Representatives has committed to working with and consulting our communities on issues relating to land and water, which we expect will result in better overall policies for our State. That land grants and acequias are included in standing committees of the legislature is an important first step to ensure that the needs of our communities are addressed."
Paula Garcia, Executive Director of the New Mexico Acequia Association:
"Land grants and acequias have sustained our communities for centuries. We remain devoted to the well-being of our families by sustaining our culture and protecting land and water for future generations. We are encouraged that House Leadership is listening to our needs and concerns and that there is a commitment to work with us now and in the future. We are prepared to advocate for investments in our communities and policies consistent with our core values. We have much work ahead and look forward to having a stronger voice in the updated committee structure."
Ralph Vigil, Chair of the New Mexico Acequia Commission:
"Today we had a good meeting with House Leadership regarding the future of the land grants, acequias, and our traditional communities. This is hopefully the beginning of building long term relationships with legislative leaders to address the long standing issues for our traditional communities and the citizens of New Mexico. We look forward to working closely with our legislative allies to move our communities forward."
Steve Polaco, President of Merced de Los Pueblos de Tierra Amarilla:
"I am pleased that Representative Susan Herrera has been appointed to Chair the new Rural Development, Land Grants, and Cultural Affairs Committee. She has been working with our land grant since she was elected. Everything we have asked for, she has always sent us in the right direction and I think she will lead us in a way that will help us accomplish everything that we want to achieve. She has been very responsive in the past and I have confidence that she will continue to do that."
House Majority Leader Javier Martínez:
"These treasured multigenerational entities are foundational to the identity and livelihoods of many New Mexicans. The land grant and acequia communities have to know they can count on elected leaders to have their backs and ensure they have a strong voice within state government."