Stephanie Garcia Richard, NM Commissioner of Public Lands
Air Dates: July 31-August 2, 2021
This week's guest on REPORT FROM SANTA FE is Stephanie Garcia Richard, New Mexico's Commissioner of Public Lands. Garcia Richard was elected to the office of NM Land Commissioner in 2018 and is the first woman and the first educator in this very important role. She explains her deep connection to the role, "because it is the office that raises money for education, (I felt that) that an educator would really know the value of every dollar, every dime really that the Land Office earns."
The purpose of the Land Office is to fund public education and other public institutions. Commissioner Garcia Richard is tasked with overseeing 9 million surface acres and 13 million mineral acres.
Income is generated by leasing state trust land for a multitude of purposes including oil and gas, renewable energy, agriculture, and a broad array of commercial uses. The beneficiaries of these funds were laid out in the New Mexico Constitution and include NM schools, hospitals, and colleges.
The Land Commissioner proudly notes that this year, "We are announcing a historic billion dollars worth of revenue that we have raised on behalf of the citizens of New Mexico that will go to our public schools, universities, and hospitals. But what your viewers really want to know, is that will save the average taxpaying household $1500 a year in taxes that they don’t have to pay to support their schools and universities and hospitals."
Commissioner Garcia Richard describes the "Open for Adventure" program at the Land Office that features beautiful NM state trust lands available for outdoor recreation such as Melrose Woods, San Lorenzo Canyon, and White's Peak. She adds, “We manage lands that anywhere else could be a state park or a national park. I mean these are some of the most pristine, gorgeous landscapes that you could experience and we manage them under state lands." She highlights a number of destinations and locations for people to come out and recreate for bird watching, fishing, hunting, hiking, and more.