The New Mexico State Land Office is responsible for administering 9 million acres of surface and 13 million acres of subsurface estate. Revenue from oil, gas, and mining, and from the sale of land is placed in the Land Grant Permanent Fund, which is invested in schools, universities, hospitals and other public institutions. Revenue from activities that do not permanently deplete resources (e.g., grazing) are distributed to beneficiaries through the Land Maintenance Fund, after the Land Office covers its own expenses.
The New Mexico State Land Office is managed by an elected land commissioner. The current land commissioner is Aubrey Dunn, who took office in 2015. Dunn is a cattle rancher who “has owned 13 ranches throughout his life. He now owns and operates the Quivira Ranch between Mountainair and Corona.” As commissioner, Dunn has reduced the amount of freshwater available for oil industry use. Commissioner Dunn also called for an expedited review of New Mexico’s national monuments by the Department of Interior, citing oil drilling as a potential use for traded land.
[The New Mexico State Land Office Internet Site; The Aubrey Dunn for U.S. Senate Internet Site; “Race for State Land Commissioner Heats Up in New Mexico,” Public News Service, 03/08/18]
Notable Activities and Statements on Public Lands Policy
New Mexico Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn Reduced The Amount of Freshwater Available For Oil Industry Use.
Dunn Cited Concerns About Oil Industry Activity Depleting Freshwater Resources. Dunn sent a letter May 23  announcing that he will stop issuing or renewing easements intended for use of freshwater for oil industry activities. Dunn’s action was in response to the City of Eunice selling water for hydraulic fracturing or fracking,” he said. [“Land Commissioner Halts Oil and Gas-Related Well Easements,” Associated Press, 06/18/17]
The New Policy Would Limit Aquifer Water for Drilling And Allowed for a Royalty Fee. “Dunn said earlier this year that parts of eastern New Mexico are facing a crisis as the Ogallala Aquifer is depleted and the policy was aimed at easing pressure on the underground water supply. The policy limits the use of water from the aquifer for drilling operations and allows for a royalty fee. It also calls for a hydrological assessment before water easements are approved or renewed.” [“New Mexico Land Official Sued Over Water Policy,” Associated Press, 10/18/17]
New Mexico Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn Supported the Trump Administration’s Review of New Mexico’s National Monuments.
Dunn Requested an Expedited Monument Review, Citing Oil Drilling As a Potential Use for Traded Land. “State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn weighed in with a letter to the Department of the Interior, calling for the monument review process to be expedited so that the state can ‘trade out’ state land inside the monument boundaries or for a reduction in the size of the monuments ‘to allow the State to use its trust land to achieve the purposes for which the federal government’ granted the trust lands to New Mexico. State trust lands are leased out for many purposes, including grazing and gas or oil drilling.’The need for an expedited remedy is particularly acute in light of fiscal difficulties the State of New Mexico is experiencing,’ Dunn wrote.” [Uncertainty over the future plagues new national monuments in New Mexico,” Albuquerque Journal, 06/30/17]