February 11, 2020 News

New Mexico: Front Group Denying Public Access, Research Released Highlighting Influence on Public Lands

MoneyTrails.org Focuses on Monied Influence on Western State Public Lands and Policy

With the start of New Mexico’s state legislative session kicking into gear, Western Values Project (WVP) — an Accountable.US project based in Montana, defending America’s public lands — is making public their in-depth research concerning special interest monied influence on New Mexico’s and other Western states’ public lands and natural resources available on their MoneyTrails website

“One of New Mexico’s most insidious groups, the New Mexico Habitat Conservation Initiative, is working hard to restrict public access to the state’s streams and waterways. The front group was created by a wealthy Texas oil and gas lawyer who elevated a law to restrict public access for his own personal benefit. Given this front group’s troubling political spending and dangerous anti-public lands and anti-public access agenda, their every move should be watched closely,” said Jayson O’Neill, Deputy Director of Western Values Project. “With special interest influence relentlessly trying to upend public lands protections, MoneyTrails is a resource for the public, as well as decision-makers, in our continued fight to keep public lands in public hands by exposing front groups seeking to undermine our outdoor heritage for their narrow interests.” 

The New Mexico Habitat Conservation Initiative (NMHCI) was created by an oil and gas attorney for the sole purpose of backing a controversial anti-public access law. Dan Perry, an oil and gas attorney from Texas, bought a ranch in New Mexico and decided to block public access to streams that ran through his property. Perry went as far as to create NMHCI to ensure this anti-public access law stays in place for wealthy private landowners. Read the New Mexico Habitat Conservation Initiative report here

Public lands are a critical part of New Mexico’s infrastructure, recreation economy, and employment rate, supporting 99,000 jobs, generating $9.9 billion in consumer spending and $623 million in state and local tax revenue.

MoneyTrails highlights research on three special interest groups operating within New Mexico and a multi-state group also trying to influence public lands policy in the state. Look for more reports as the New Mexico’s legislative session continues. 

MoneyTrails was created by WVP to document the influence that special interest groups, industry executives, and anti-public lands front groups exert on public lands issues throughout the West. The taxpaying public deserves to know how these monied groups are attempting to affect public lands decisions to benefit corporations and special interests and MoneyTrails is a resource intended to shed light on these critical issues.