Isleta wants boundary fence moved

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Whether you call it Fence Line Road or Mesa Estates Road, one thing is clear. By next July, the Pueblo of Isleta expects a portion of it to be closed and returned to the pueblo.

According to a letter and resolution from Isleta, a strip of land belonging to the pueblo on the north side of Meadow Lake has been used as a road by county residents for decades.

Julia M. Dendinger-News-Bulletin photo: The disputed fence line divides Valencia County from the Pueblo of Isleta, standing 25 feet too far to the north, according to the pueblo.

The 25-foot-wide strip of property is four miles long, according to the resolution.

County manager Bruce Swingle said it is his understanding that the part of the boundary in dispute started at Fence Line Road and La Ladera Road, in Peralta, and runs four miles east, to about Christina Road.

While no dwellings will be affected on the pueblo, Swingle said moving the boundary would result in about seven residences becoming land locked.

“Those (seven) currently have houses on them and there are a number of other properties affected that are vacant,” Swingle said. The commissioners met in executive session last night to discuss the boundary issue. No action on the matter was indicated on the agenda.

Isleta Gov. E. Paul Torres said the existing boundary fence is too far north and the pueblo has asked the Bureau of Indian Affairs to correct the error.

“BIA is responsible for the boundaries of the pueblo and every tribe,” Torres said. He said as best as he and the tribal councilors can tell, when BIA built the fence about 50 years ago, it was put in the wrong place.

“We went out and found the brass survey markers,” he said. “I guess the workers who built it were not given the proper instructions.”

Torres said the matter is in the hands of the BIA and the pueblo will now “sit back and see how they take care of it.” He said meetings with Valencia County officials have been cordial and positive.

“But now that Mr. Swingle is leaving, I hope this doesn’t put us back to square one,” he said. “I would like to do this in my administration.” Torres has about a year and a half left to serve as governor.

Torres said the fix should be fairly simple, and that moving the fence wouldn’t result in the taking of any residential property.

“When we looked, the residents’ fences are on their property,” he said. “They are just using a road that is not on their property.”

Torres said re-establishing an east-west road on the northern side of Meadow Lake would be an issue for the county to address.

“We feel the county has plenty of time to address the issue,” he said. “Of course we would like to see this addressed sooner rather than later.

“We aren’t putting people out of their homes. We gave the county plenty of time to do what is needed. This is about community and coming together.”

The resolution directing BIA to move the boundary fence was approved by the tribal counsel 11-0 on June 13.

It directs the agency to permanently close off access to the strip of pueblo land and re-establish the fence at the true boundary to conform to the Bureau of Land Management survey.

The pueblo also requested BIA obligate funds for the construction of a new fence, enforce the closure of the property and “otherwise represent and defend the Pueblo of Isleta in these actions.”