Press release: Lease to expand Melrose bombing range signed

(SANTA FE, New Mexico) – A lease signing ceremony took place today in Santa Fe, New Mexico resulting in the lease of a large parcel of state trust land – about 11,000 acres in Roosevelt County – to the U.S. Air Force.

Officials present for the signing ceremony included: New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, State Land Commissioner Ray Powell, and Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Terry Yonkers, as well as state legislators, and Roosevelt and Curry county officials.

The lease signing ceremony happened in two stages – Land Commissioner Powell leased the state trust land to the State of New Mexico – and then Governor Martinez assigned the lease to the U.S. Air Force.

“Turning over the use of this land to the U.S. Air Force will benefit the people of eastern New Mexico because it protects Cannon Air Force Base and fosters the potential expansion of missions here, as well as potentially create new jobs for civilians and military personnel,” said Governor Susana Martinez.

“We have worked hard to bring New Mexicans together to create this unique solution that will benefit our public schools, create jobs for New Mexicans, and reduce the burden on our taxpayers,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Ray Powell. “Rather than sell this land we leased it so that it will be available for future generations.”

Under the lease arrangement, a $2.7 million gift of the land was turned over to the U.S. Air Force by the State of New Mexico, which made the entire lease payment of the $2.7 million in advance to the State Land Office. Because the land is on a long-term lease for 74 years, the State Land Office will get the land back at the end of the lease, after it has been remediated for any environmental problems.

“Training ranges are vital assets that help our military warfighters to train exactly as they will fight to meet the threats of today and tomorrow,” said Air Force Assistant Secretary Terry Yonkers. “The land lease gift by the State of New Mexico will allow the Air Force as well as all of our military services to enhance training capabilities, for our traditional fighter and bomber training and also that of our special operations forces.”