In July 2016, residents of Timberon, a small town located on the edge of Lincoln National Forest in Otero County, New Mexico, returned home to find their houses reduced to ashes. They were victims of a forest fire that had quickly spread due to the dry, arid conditions in Otero County. Unfortunately, such scenes are all too common. Wildfires burning throughout the country have become a growing national concern. Time and time again people are forced to evacuate their homes because forest fires, fueled by dry undergrowth, have burned their communities. When a community is faced with such dangers it must protect itself. This same rationale motivated the Board of County Commissioners of the County of Otero to take preemptive measures to thin and clear dangerous dry undergrowth that posed a serious conflagratory threat of causing the same destruction residents of Timberon experienced. Otero County’s protective measures, however, were halted by the Federal Government, who used authority granted to it by the Property Clause of the Federal Constitution to assert complete authority over National Forest land in Otero County.
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Ryan F. Adragna,
Using the Tenth Amendment to Prevent Forest Fires: An Analysis of the PropertyClause and Tenth Amendment in United States v. Board of County Commissionersof County of Otero,
N.M. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/nmlr/vol49/iss1/5