Contact: Kathryn Vogel, (505) 277-2496 or
Steve Carr, (505) 277-1821

January 26, 2001


A memo of understanding, between the New Mexico State Land Office and the University of New Mexico biology department concerning critical information about the health of the plants and animals on state trust land, was signed today in Albuquerque by Ray Powell, Commissioner of Public Lands, Dr. Kathryn Vogel, chairperson, UNM biology department and Dr. James Ligon, assistant director of the Museum of Southwestern Biology.

“This agreement is great on a variety of different levels,” said Powell. “The biology depart ment at the University of New Mexico represents the highest in academic achievement. The biology department is one of the most outstanding in the country and the reason is because it’s a first class department with great faculty and students, which will help us oversee 13,000 acres of state land. With their help, we’ll have a better idea of what’s on the land.

“It’s a celebration in saying we have a world class university and biology department making our state a better place.”

Ray Powell, Kathryn Vogel and James Ligon signing the memo.

The information gleaned from research performed by the UNM biology department, will assist the State Land Office in protecting the health of the land for future generations and will enable biology students at UNM ongoing opportunities to study on state trust land. The State Land Office will then incorporate the information collected into databases for the Asset Inventory Program.

“Research projects involving undergraduate and graduate students in biology take place on state lands. In addition, biology classes make field trips to state lands; these lands are a resource for teaching biology,” said Vogel. “The plants and animals found on state lands will be archived as a part of the collections in the Museum of Southwestern Biology, which is a part of the department of biology.

“This (agreement) means these plants and animals will be preserved and knowledge about them made available worldwide. It is all part of the effort to understand the ecology of New Mexico and to use this information to make wise policy decisions concerning the use of state land.”

The Asset Inventory Program was initiated in 1998 when Powell received legislative funding to begin the program designed to survey archaeological and paleontological sites, habitat and natural resources on state trust land. Subsurface assets, including oil, gas and mineral reserves, as well as improvements made on the land by grazing lessees, are also part of the inventory process.

Ultimately, all the information gained will be integrated into the State Land Office Geographic Information System database for computer-aided analyses and mapping.

“The Museum of Southwestern Biology is excited to continue our close collaboration with the State Land Office,” said Dr. Timothy Lowrey, director of the Museum of Southwestern Biology. “The research mission of the museum is to catalogue and study the biodiversity of the American Southwest. The results of our research, which are facilitated by the MOU, will be important contributions to the success of the Asset Inventory Program.”

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The University of New Mexico
Public Affairs Department
Hodgin Hall, 2nd floor
Albuquerque, NM 87131-0011
Telephone: (505) 277-5813
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