Is New Mexico doing all it can to protect its ancient history?
By: Laura Paskus 02/25/2009
"But not everyone believes the State Land Office is properly overseeing the thousands of archaeological resources on state lands. As a result, archaeologists say, history is being lost.
Under New Mexico law, sites on state lands are not afforded the same protections as those on lands owned by federal agencies such as the US Bureau of Land Management, National Forest Service or National Park Service. A bill before the state Legislature, if passed, would create more stringent oversight regardless of jurisdiction.
Critics say the State Land Office is in particular need of such oversight.
While Land Commissioner Pat Lyons maintains there is no destruction of archaeological sites, of the estimated 250,000 such sites on state lands (according to the State Land Office’s Web site), fewer than 5,000 have been identified and documented.
Furthermore, the State Land Office does not require its leasees to survey for cultural resources before breaking ground on projects. As a result, New Mexico Archeological Council President Deni Seymour writes in an e-mail to SFR:
“Many important archaeological sites are damaged or destroyed, without being recorded or studied.” She adds: “It is sad and it is surprising that a state agency does not see the discovery and protection of cultural resources as part of its obligation and fiduciary responsibility.” ' More>>>>