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State agencies sign agreement about forest assessments

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The New Mexico State Land Office (SLO) and the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) have signed an agreement that will allow the energy department to access state trust lands to conduct assessments of New Mexico forests.

The two agencies announced Tuesday that a memorandum of agreement was signed so that the EMNRD can assess forest health, including monitoring insects, plant disease and endangered species.

By 2020, EMNRD’s Forestry Division is tasked with conducting the Statewide Assessment and Forest Action Plan, which it will begin in April. The assessment will help the department determine where to allocate federal funding to improve forest conditions. As part of the signed agreement, EMNRD will provide all data collected to the SLO’s Surface Resources Division.

“The forest and plant assessments conducted by the department will provide valuable information regarding where we can partner to improve the conditions of our land, air, water and wildlife,” State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard said. “This also puts a mechanism in place to assure our lessees are notified and aware of entrance by the Forestry Division to the land that they lease from us.”

The SLO manages 9 million surface acres, or 10  percent of all surface land in New Mexico.