Here’s the link to an op-ed in the ABQ Journal.
Here is an excerpt:
The recent decision by the U.S. Forest Service to ban motorized vehicles on 100,000 acres in the Carson National Forest (mostly in Taos County) is going to hurt tens of thousands of Hispanic families in northern New Mexico who rely on cutting their firewood each winter in these same lands to keep their families warm during the cold winters.
This Forest Service ban will effectively put all this land off-limits to the Hispanic families and communities of northern New Mexico starting immediately and will make it very difficult – if not impossible – for Hispanic families to cut their firewood for next winter and all future winters, unless this decision is reversed soon.
In addition to firewood cutting, this ban will effectively make it impossible for Hispanic families in northern New Mexico to use these lands for our traditional cultural uses as we have for 400 years.
These traditional Hispano cultural uses include grazing our small cattle herds in these lands, hunting, fishing, and piñon and herb gathering, among other traditional uses.
It seems the Forest Service is now allowing the anti-Hispanic environmentalists to ban the Hispanic families from using these lands controlled by the Forest Service. The anti-Hispanic agenda of the environmentalists and their movement is well-known in northern New Mexico, where Hispanic families, individuals and communities – along with our Hispano culture – have been under attack by this anti-Hispanic movement for many years now.
These anti-Hispanic environmentalists have been running a campaign of lies for many years, falsely claiming their movement is so diverse and so helpful to the Hispanic communities. The reality is the environmentalists have a selfish, elitist and anti-Hispanic agenda whose goal seems to be the destruction of the Hispanic communities and culture in northern New Mexico
I’m assuming that the road closure is for environmental protection or to save money. If that were the case, I think it’s really hard to argue that something happening all over the country is anti-Hispanic. People of all races, and from the Native Americans to this decades’ immigrants use public lands. Note to readers: I disagree with Mr. Martinez that environmental groups are specifically anti-Hispanic. Closing roads may well have different impacts to different ethnic groups and social classes, though. Hopefully that’s addressed in the environmental justice part of the social analysis in the environmental documentation.
What is different for Native Americans, is that they have treaty rights are in a “government to government” relationship, so it’s fundamentally a legal difference compared to run-of-the-mill forest neighbors.
Considering that more than 90 percent of the lands claimed by the Carson and Santa Fe National Forests were stolen from the Hispanic land grant communities by corrupt and racist U.S. government officials, this latest ban is further proof that our government should return the land grant lands to the Hispanic land grant communities in northern New Mexico, who remain the legal owners of these lands.
Our Hispano families, communities and culture in northern New Mexico have a right to exist and a right to survive, just as the Native Americans and other group enjoys that right. Our Hispano communities’ right to exist and survive includes the return of our land grant lands.
If Mr. Martinez’s claim about the origin of the national forests in New Mexico is accurate, then Hispano families also have a unique property right to that land.
However, I hope that all “National forest neighbor” communities have some “a right to exist and a right to survive,” and their traditional uses should be respected.