(Associated Press) Fernando Martinez’s family has lived on the Arroyo Hondo Land Grant for more than two centuries, passing property from generation to generation in the popular area near Taos.

For the past couple of years, though, it has become impossible for Martinez or hundreds of others with homes in the mountainous northern New Mexico enclave to do much of anything with their properties.

The 31-square-mile land grant, parceled out by the Spanish monarchy in the early 19th century to encourage settlement of the then-remote region, is at the heart of a bitter legal tug-of-war that has thwarted property owners’ efforts to sell or refinance their homes, or even buy insurance policies, while pitting frustrated neighbors against each other.

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