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State Land Office to auction off Chaves County parcel

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In a fairly rare occurrence, the New Mexico State Land Office intends to sell some Chaves County land next month.

The state office has announced its plans to auction off a parcel east of Roswell Aug. 22 for a minimum of $150,000.

The action would represent only the second sale of trust lands since current Commissioner Aubrey Dunn took office in January 2015, said Assistant Commissioner and Public Information Specialist Kris McNeil.

The auction is scheduled to occur on the front steps of the Chaves County Courthouse in downtown Roswell starting at 9 a.m.

McNeil said the sale has been prompted by a request by a neighboring property owner, Kenneth Barbe. The land is described as approximately 147 acres near Woodbine Way and located about eight miles east of Roswell.

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Barbe is a partner in Manzano LLC, an oil and gas production firm formed in 1984, but he said he wants to continue using the Woodbine Way area tract for cattle grazing, as it has been used by his family for decades.

“We’ve been leasing that land in our family for about 60 years, so we thought we would go ahead and buy it,” said Barbe.

The terms of the agreement preclude selling mineral rights, said McNeil.

“The State Land Office by law cannot sell minerals,” he said. “It can only trade them back to the Feds or something like that.”

McNeil said the minimum sales price was set by Commissioner Dunn and his staff.

“We had an appraisal done. That came back at about $62,000, I think it was,” said McNeil. “We put it up for sale for $150 (thousand). It seemed like, in trying to find the highest and best use, that seemed appropriate.”

McNeil said the land does not have buildings or other major improvements on it, and a canal also runs through it.

All bidders must put up a deposit of $25,474 before the auction, with unsuccessful bidders getting all of it back except $3,000.

After the auction, Commissioner Dunn and staff have the right to review the winning bid. If it is accepted and the winning bidder meets sale requirements, the sale becomes final within 90 days.

McNeil said a sale in Rio Rancho occurred early during Dunn’s tenure. Another one might occur south of Santa Fe in the coming months. During the Land Office’s 108 years, about 4.4 million surface acres have been sold, he said, leaving the office with about 9 million surface acres in its ownership.

State trust lands are located in 32 of the state’s 33 counties, with each parcel designated for a specific beneficiary. Most of the earnings derived from rentals, leases or sales go to public schools and universities, but other beneficiaries include hospitals and public facility and land projects.

The bid packet is available on the State Land Office website, nmstatelands.org.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.