Opinion: New Mexico Public Lands commissioner forum Saturday

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I have made my living for over 40 years on the public lands and waters of New Mexico. Having access to public land and water is vital to the livelihood of my business. My business has over 60 employees, many with families and children. Protecting pristine lands protects valuable resources that maintain the clean and healthy waters of our beautiful area. Having access to these resources is vital to the tourism industry that New Mexico heavily relies on.

The current efforts by some persons and groups to transfer public lands to private holding can be harmful to my business and tourism in general. Private lands cannot be relied on to protect the clean water and scenic beauty they hold. There is a reason why many visitors come to New Mexico from states where land is mostly privately owned or controlled. They cannot visit many areas of scenic beauty and clean water because there is no public access. Public access to land and water is fundamental to the basic liberties that our nation is founded on.

The elected officials who guide, control and make decisions regarding our public lands must not be beholden to private interests. These elected or appointed officials must hold protection of public land and waters as one of their core values. I encourage everyone to be educated about and participate in the process that protects our public lands.

In 2018, you will have an opportunity to vote for our state’s next Commissioner of Public Lands, an elected office you may not hear that much about, but that plays a key role in protection of public access, which is vital to maintaining the unique beauty of our state and our physical, mental and spiritual health. I encourage you to take advantage of every opportunity to learn more about the candidates running for this office. This Saturday, December 9, the three Democratic candidates for New Mexico Commissioner of Public Lands will be at the Taos Mesa Brewing Mothership between noon and 2 p.m. to express their views, take questions and mingle with the crowd. Whatever your politics, I encourage you to attend this forum!

Cisco Guevara is a longtime river guide in Taos.

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