2010

  • Published

    Opinion: Saving Otero Mesa is Important to All

    November 12, 2010
    by Karyn Stockdale, Vice President and Executive Director, Audubon New Mexico
    From the Santa Fe New Mexican

    Recently, Gov. Bill Richardson sent a letter to President Barack Obama calling for a national-monument declaration for Otero Mesa. The letter follows on a groundswell of support from local communities to protect this unique ecosystem. Birdwatchers from around the state will be anxiously watching the administration in hopes that one of their favorite birding spots will be permanently protected.

    About 40 miles northeast of El Paso, the greater Otero Mesa ecosystem includes about 1.2 million acres in Southern New Mexico. This unique landscape is essential to birds for breeding, wintering and migrating, and has been designated by the National Audubon Society’s New Mexico Office, in partnership with Bird Life International, as an Important Bird Area. The IBA Program was created as a global effort to identify and conserve areas that are vital to birds and biodiversity. By working with diverse groups throughout New Mexico, including Audubon chapters, landowners, public agencies, community groups and nonprofits, Audubon endeavors ensure that IBAs are properly managed and conserved.

    Otero Mesa represents one of New Mexico’s top 10 most important IBAs as it is the largest and wildest Chihuahuan Desert grassland remaining on public lands in the United States. The mesa is home to more than 200 species of migratory songbirds, provides important breeding grounds for burrowing owls and is prime habitat for the endangered aplomado falcon. It contains critical wintering and migration habitat for Baird’s sparrow and Sprague’s pipit, which are among species whose entire populations are limited and declining.

    But the grasslands of Otero provide more than just critical habitat for birds and other wildlife; they also represent an important economic asset to local communities and the state at large. Each year, New Mexico’s fish, wildlife and habitats contribute $3.8 billion to the state through hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation. These activities sustain 47,000 jobs (more than farming and forestry combined) and generate more than $184 million in yearly sales tax revenue.

    In a recent study done by Headwaters Economics for Audubon New Mexico, it was found that investments in conservation and restoration in Southern New Mexico will provide multiple returns, including increased employment and revenue related to tourism, already New Mexico’s second largest industry, and bringing more than $5.7 billion to the state annually — while promoting long-term economic growth and development in the region that extends far beyond travel and recreation.

    The value of New Mexico’s natural amenities and recreation opportunities lies not only in their ability to draw tourists but also in their ability to attract and retain people, entrepreneurs, their businesses and the growing number of retirees who move here for quality-of-life reasons. Business surveys consistently have identified natural amenities and recreation opportunities as key factors determining where entrepreneurs and retirees choose to live. Furthermore, published research has shown that, nationwide, protected natural amenities, such as pristine scenery and wildlife-help sustain property values and attract new investment.

    Otero Mesa’s real value lies not on what we can extract from it, but in protecting the uniqueness of its landscape. In today’s difficult economic times, Southern New Mexico’s natural beauty and amenities present a significant competitive advantage compared to other regions.

    New Mexicans and tourists from around the country are fortunate to be able to visit Otero Mesa for birdwatching, wildlife watching, hunting and more.

    But today there is no guarantee that years from now it will be the same. As the state office of the National Audubon Society, Audubon New Mexico’s mission is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds and other wildlife and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the Earth’s biological diversity. Audubon New Mexico is part of the Coalition to Protect Otero Mesa. See www.oteromesa.org for more details.

    Karyn Stockdale is vice president and executive director of Audubon New Mexico. She lives in Santa Fe.

  • Trapping Ban Gives Lobos Breathing Room

    Editorial from the Albuquerque Journal
    Tuesday, August 17, 2010

    New Mexico’s few remaining Mexican gray wolves are in a battle for their lives, and Gov. Bill Richardson is granting them a partial truce.

    Richardson has ordered the state Department of Game and Fish to prohibit trapping for six months on the New Mexico side of a federal wolf reintroduction area. The temporary ban will allow studies on the risks traps and snares pose to wolves.

    After the re-introduction effort in the Southwest began in 1998, biologists predicted there would be a self-sustaining wild population of 100 wolves by now. The latest count at the end of 2009 found just 42. 

    Re-introduction has been plagued by illegal shootings and complaints from ranchers who have lost cattle to wolves and environmentalists who bemoan the federal government’s management of the program.

    And traps.

    In the last eight years, there have been six confirmed and three probable Mexican gray wolves trapped in New Mexico’s portion of the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area. Five wolves were injured by traps, two severely enough to require amputations. Ultimately this hurts ranchers because injured wolves are more likely to prey on livestock as they won’t be able to bring down elk and deer.

    The trapping ban gives wolves a reprieve while the U.S. Forest Service reviews a petition by environmental groups calling for an emergency halt to trapping and snaring in the recovery area.

    The Mexican gray wolf is perilously close to extinction. If that happens, the only “lobo” cry New Mexicans will hear will be at a University of New Mexico sporting event.

    READ MORE on the Albuquerque Journal website (requires subscription)

  • Trapping Ban Gives Lobos Breathing Room

    Editorial from the Albuquerque Journal
    Tuesday, August 17, 2010

    New Mexico’s few remaining Mexican gray wolves are in a battle for their lives, and Gov. Bill Richardson is granting them a partial truce.

    Richardson has ordered the state Department of Game and Fish to prohibit trapping for six months on the New Mexico side of a federal wolf reintroduction area. The temporary ban will allow studies on the risks traps and snares pose to wolves.

    After the re-introduction effort in the Southwest began in 1998, biologists predicted there would be a self-sustaining wild population of 100 wolves by now. The latest count at the end of 2009 found just 42. 

    Re-introduction has been plagued by illegal shootings and complaints from ranchers who have lost cattle to wolves and environmentalists who bemoan the federal government’s management of the program.

    And traps.

    In the last eight years, there have been six confirmed and three probable Mexican gray wolves trapped in New Mexico’s portion of the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area. Five wolves were injured by traps, two severely enough to require amputations. Ultimately this hurts ranchers because injured wolves are more likely to prey on livestock as they won’t be able to bring down elk and deer.

    The trapping ban gives wolves a reprieve while the U.S. Forest Service reviews a petition by environmental groups calling for an emergency halt to trapping and snaring in the recovery area.

    The Mexican gray wolf is perilously close to extinction. If that happens, the only “lobo” cry New Mexicans will hear will be at a University of New Mexico sporting event.

    READ MORE on the Albuquerque Journal website (requires subscription)

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    Badlands overview

     

  • Their View: Otero Mesa and the role of a potential national monument

    By Ben Alexander
    Opinion for the Las Cruces Sun-News, December 20, 2010

    Debate over a possible new national monument covering the Otero Mesa has erupted again. Given the importance of this issue, now is the time to discuss the economics of how a monument could impact southern New Mexico and whether it would be beneficial to residents.

    Let’s start with the area’s economy. The region’s economy has strong ties to the military, though since the mid-1980s these jobs have been declining. In contrast, services and professional sectors and retirement and investment income have grown independent of this decline and provided a complimentary economic alternative to military bases.

    By 2008, services and professional employment constituted more than 50 percent of all jobs in southern New Mexico and non-labor income was more than one-third of total personal income. These sectors are associated with above average economic performance in rural, public land counties across the West.
    There also are a few warning signs on the horizon. In some areas such as Otero County the population is growing entirely because of high birth rates, while more adults are leaving the county each year than migrate into the area.

    Also, the self-employed ranks have grown much faster than wage and salary jobs – a possible indication that people are working for themselves because it is their only alternative.

    With this context in mind, the question is whether monument designation – acting to increase protections on public land – would benefit southern New Mexico economically. The short answer is that repeated academic studies have shown that investments in public lands conservation and restoration provide an immediate return through new employment and revenue.

    Tourism and recreation play a substantial role in rural communities. The Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently found that “recreation and tourism development contributes to rural well-being, increasing local employment, wage levels, and income, reducing poverty and improving education and health.” Job earnings in rural recreation counties, for example, are $2,000 more per worker than in other rural counties.

    In today’s economy, the value of natural amenities and recreation opportunities extends far beyond tourism. Experts increasingly recognize that protected public lands provide not only immediate job and financial benefits through tourism and recreation but also help promote long-term economic growth because of their ability to attract and retain people, entrepreneurs, and the growing number of retirees who locate for quality of life reasons.

    Furthermore, published research has shown that, nationwide, protected natural amenities – such as pristine scenery and wildlife – help sustain property values and attract new investment.

    So what would a monument mean for southern New Mexico?

    The Mesa is one of the most highly regarded natural assets not yet protected in New Mexico and home to more than 1,000 native plant and animal species. Already significant tourism jobs and expenditures along with related tax revenue could be expected to grow further with a new monument. By taking an active role in a new monument, the region could cultivate a growing services and retirement economy as part of a long-term economic diversification and resiliency strategy.

    Just as importantly, the Mesa lies above the region’s largest untapped water source, the Salt Basin Aquifer. This water will become even more valuable over time and should be guarded for responsible future use.

    It’s worth considering whether there could be opportunity costs from creating a monument. Such a designation would not harm agricultural uses or military employment.

    Looking at mineral wealth, the Bureau of Land Management’s analysis showed little reason to believe that the local economy would benefit from projected fossil fuel extraction on Otero Mesa – and that the limited revenue from mineral extraction might not even cover the share of infrastructure and service costs.

    Overall, there is a strong case to be made that protecting Otero Mesa’s unique desert grasslands will provide a number of economic benefits to nearby communities.

    Ben Alexander is associate director of Headwaters Economics, www.headwaterseconomics.org, an independent, nonprofit research group whose mission is to improve community development and land management decisions in the West.

  • For Immediate Release
    Date: November 15, 2010
    Contact: Kendra Barkoff, DOI
    Phone: (202) 208-6416

    Secretary Salazar Establishes New Directorate For National Landscape Conservation System

    Elevated management focus for 27 million acres of nationally significant public lands

    LAS VEGAS, NV – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today issued a Secretarial Order elevating the Office of the National Landscape Conservation System and Community Partnerships in the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to the level of a directorate within BLM.

    doi logo

    “This action reflects the growing importance of the 27-million acre National Landscape Conservation System to local economies, to the health of communities, and to the conservation of some of America’s greatest landscapes,” Salazar said at the National Landscape Conservation System Summit in Las Vegas. “The BLM plays a special role in protecting America’s great outdoors for the benefit of all Americans – for it is the national conservation lands that contain the forests and canyons that families love to explore, the backcountry where children learn to hunt and fish, and the places that tell the story of our history and our cultures. Each of these places within the National Landscape Conservation System holds special meaning to the American people and is an engine for jobs and economic growth in local communities.”

    This National Landscape Conservation System was established as an integral part of the Bureau of Land Management by the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, a bipartisan initiative that responded to the critical need, as the population of the West increases, to conserve open spaces that are a unique part of America’s heritage. As an integral part of the BLM’s multiple-use mission, conservation is a long-term investment that provides quality of life and economic benefits for current and future generations.

    The system contains many of our Nation’s most treasured landscapes, including scientific, historic and cultural resources, wilderness and wilderness study areas, wild and scenic rivers, national monuments, national conservation areas, and scenic and historic trails, among others.

    These lands are managed as an integral part of the larger landscape, in collaboration with the neighboring landowners and surrounding communities. The management objectives are to maintain biodiversity and promote ecological connectivity and resilience in the face of climate change. When consistent with the values for which they were designated, lands in the system may allow appropriate multiple uses, such as grazing, energy development and tourism.

    Managers of the system recognize the importance of a diversity of viewpoints when considering management options. These nationally important landscapes are managed from an interdisciplinary perspective, drawing upon the expertise of specialists throughout the BLM, and in coordination with the tribes, other Federal, state, and local government agencies, interested local landowners, adjacent communities, and other public and private interests.

    The directorate will be called the National Landscape Conservation System and Community Partnerships. The Assistant Secretary – Land and Minerals Management is responsible for ensuring implementation of this Order within 120 days. This responsibility may be delegated, as appropriate.

    The signing of the Secretarial Order followed Salazar’s remarks to a summit of the National Landscape Conservation System, attended by several hundred BLM officials and employees as well as non-government stakeholders and state and local representatives.

    The Secretarial Order is available HERE.

    The Secretary’s remarks are available HERE.

  • From the Albuquerque Journal 7/15/10

    CALL OF THE LOBO
    When Elke Duerr was growing up on an organic farm in Germany, she went for a walk with her grandfather. Duerr, now an educator and independent filmmaker living in Albuquerque, was about 6 years old on that day in Bavaria.
    As she and her grandfather strolled through their little patch of forest, he proudly told her that the wood was called “The Wolf Trap.”
    “I said, ‘Why is it called the wolf trap? We don’t have any more wolves,’ ” Duerr said. “He said, ‘Oh, this is where our ancestors killed the very last wolf, so that you and I could be safe.’ And he looked it me like, aren’t you glad?
    “I didn’t really process what was going on until later, but I got really mad, and I said to him, ‘How dare they have done that, because now I will never meet them! They have taken something away. And I said to him, ‘I’ll bring them back!’ “
    Bringing back the wolf — not in Germany, but in her adopted home of New Mexico — is Duerr’s raison d’Atre. She is at work on a film, “Stories of Wolves: The Lobo Returns,” that she hopes to release early next year.
    Duerr’s film will focus on the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program, which has been a roller coaster of success and failure since it was spawned by the 1973 Endangered Species Act.
    It has generated great controversy since wolves were first released in 1998. To this day, in parts of southwestern New Mexico, tensions between conservationists who would see wolves flourish again and ranchers seeking to protect their livestock remain high.
    But Duerr isn’t getting too involved in the politics. For her, it’s all about the lobos.
    “I’m interested in solutions,” she said. “We have blamed each other a lot, we’ve pointed fingers a lot, and that needs to change, because that doesn’t help the cause at all.”
    Duerr teaches part time in the Los Lunas public schools as well as working on her film project, which includes educational outreach on wolves. She received her degree in Munich, which at the time was Germany’s film capital. Many of her friends were making movies, she said, and she got involved and discovered a new avocation.
    “I decided to really learn as much as I can because I felt like my calling now was more in that area, because of the environmental concerns that are piling up,” she said.
    Wolves may be her passion, but her ultimate goal is more far reaching, she said:
    “I realize that we are very disconnected from nature these days. That’s why we are doing the things we are doing. That’s why I’m doing all the educational outreach that I can. It’s not just about the wolves.
    “I started with the wolves because they’re the most endangered mammal in all of North America, our Mexican gray wolves, and they’re in our backyard. So we can have a personal connection to that animal; it’s not thousands of miles away. But ultimately it’s about us and our relationship to nature.”
    Although wolves once held an exalted place in some ancient cultures, the creatures have for centuries been demonized in popular mythology — see Three Little Pigs or Little Red Riding Hood — and hunted to near extinction around the world.
    Wolves are predators, and often still are portrayed as a danger to man. But Duerr said her research has not revealed a case of a healthy wolf attacking a human.
    Conversely, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2009 that cattle kill on average about 20 people a year, mostly their caretakers.
    But because wolves do kill livestock, some ranchers — whose animals often graze on public lands — see them as a threat to their livelihood and have vehemently opposed the reintroduction program. Wolves have been killed, trapped and relocated. Though numbers have fluctuated, there are 41 known Mexican gray wolves (after the recent shooting of an alpha male) in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area on the New Mexico-Arizona border.
    Duerr said her film, while advocating for wolves, will present all sides of the controversy and will include the positions of ranchers and hunters. She will examine views of wolves through various cultures: European, Mexican and particularly Native American.
    “The Native American cultures say the wolf is our teacher,” she said. “Brother wolf: because we learned from him how to raise a family and how to hunt. They are so much like us. …
    “Every time I want to write ‘lobo,’ I always write ‘love.’ That’s the underlying thing. The more love there is for nature, and all of her creatures, and the web of life, and the more connected we are, the more they will stay, and the healthier we’ll all be for it.”
     
    Lobo’s legacy
    In New Mexico, the tale of Lobo, “the King of Currumpaw,” is the stuff of legend. The wolf, who became infamous for killing livestock after settlers had nearly wiped out its natural prey, continually eluded capture or death. In 1893, Ernest Thompson Seton, a bounty hunter, stalked the wolf for months before finally capturing him in January 1894. Lobo died during his only night in captivity.
    The experience was life changing for Seton, who became a well-known naturalist and writer and told the story — some say in highly romanticized form — in his 1898 book “Wild Animals I Have Known.” Seton became a pivotal figure in the founding of the Boy Scouts of America and later joined the Santa Fe literary and artistic circle that included Georgia O’Keeffe, Raymond Jonson and others.
    An excellent documentary on Seton and Lobo, “The Wolf That Changed America,” aired on PBS in 2008; it’s available online at http://tinyurl.com/2uhdhlo
    Elke Duerr will give three educational outreach presentations on the Mexican gray wolf and her film in progress, “Stories of Wolves: The Lobo Returns.”
    Noon Saturday, at Wildlife West Park in Edgewood. Admission to the park is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors, $4 for students and free for children under 5. Visit www. wildlifewest.org or call 505-281-7655
    8 p.m. July 30 at The Kosmos, 1715 Fifth NW. This program will be a fundraiser for Duerr’s film project and will include a jazz performance, wine, food and a silent art auction. Admission is $15; tickets are available at www. wildwolffilm.com or at the door. Call 505-234-4611
    10 a.m. July 31 at the Open Space Visitor Center, 6500 Coors Blvd. Free. Visit www.cabq.gov/ openspace/ or call 505-897-8831
  • From the Albuquerque Journal 7/15/10

    CALL OF THE LOBO
    When Elke Duerr was growing up on an organic farm in Germany, she went for a walk with her grandfather. Duerr, now an educator and independent filmmaker living in Albuquerque, was about 6 years old on that day in Bavaria.
    As she and her grandfather strolled through their little patch of forest, he proudly told her that the wood was called “The Wolf Trap.”
    “I said, ‘Why is it called the wolf trap? We don’t have any more wolves,’ ” Duerr said. “He said, ‘Oh, this is where our ancestors killed the very last wolf, so that you and I could be safe.’ And he looked it me like, aren’t you glad?
    “I didn’t really process what was going on until later, but I got really mad, and I said to him, ‘How dare they have done that, because now I will never meet them! They have taken something away. And I said to him, ‘I’ll bring them back!’ “
    Bringing back the wolf — not in Germany, but in her adopted home of New Mexico — is Duerr’s raison d’Atre. She is at work on a film, “Stories of Wolves: The Lobo Returns,” that she hopes to release early next year.
    Duerr’s film will focus on the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program, which has been a roller coaster of success and failure since it was spawned by the 1973 Endangered Species Act.
    It has generated great controversy since wolves were first released in 1998. To this day, in parts of southwestern New Mexico, tensions between conservationists who would see wolves flourish again and ranchers seeking to protect their livestock remain high.
    But Duerr isn’t getting too involved in the politics. For her, it’s all about the lobos.
    “I’m interested in solutions,” she said. “We have blamed each other a lot, we’ve pointed fingers a lot, and that needs to change, because that doesn’t help the cause at all.”
    Duerr teaches part time in the Los Lunas public schools as well as working on her film project, which includes educational outreach on wolves. She received her degree in Munich, which at the time was Germany’s film capital. Many of her friends were making movies, she said, and she got involved and discovered a new avocation.
    “I decided to really learn as much as I can because I felt like my calling now was more in that area, because of the environmental concerns that are piling up,” she said.
    Wolves may be her passion, but her ultimate goal is more far reaching, she said:
    “I realize that we are very disconnected from nature these days. That’s why we are doing the things we are doing. That’s why I’m doing all the educational outreach that I can. It’s not just about the wolves.
    “I started with the wolves because they’re the most endangered mammal in all of North America, our Mexican gray wolves, and they’re in our backyard. So we can have a personal connection to that animal; it’s not thousands of miles away. But ultimately it’s about us and our relationship to nature.”
    Although wolves once held an exalted place in some ancient cultures, the creatures have for centuries been demonized in popular mythology — see Three Little Pigs or Little Red Riding Hood — and hunted to near extinction around the world.
    Wolves are predators, and often still are portrayed as a danger to man. But Duerr said her research has not revealed a case of a healthy wolf attacking a human.
    Conversely, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2009 that cattle kill on average about 20 people a year, mostly their caretakers.
    But because wolves do kill livestock, some ranchers — whose animals often graze on public lands — see them as a threat to their livelihood and have vehemently opposed the reintroduction program. Wolves have been killed, trapped and relocated. Though numbers have fluctuated, there are 41 known Mexican gray wolves (after the recent shooting of an alpha male) in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area on the New Mexico-Arizona border.
    Duerr said her film, while advocating for wolves, will present all sides of the controversy and will include the positions of ranchers and hunters. She will examine views of wolves through various cultures: European, Mexican and particularly Native American.
    “The Native American cultures say the wolf is our teacher,” she said. “Brother wolf: because we learned from him how to raise a family and how to hunt. They are so much like us. …
    “Every time I want to write ‘lobo,’ I always write ‘love.’ That’s the underlying thing. The more love there is for nature, and all of her creatures, and the web of life, and the more connected we are, the more they will stay, and the healthier we’ll all be for it.”
     
    Lobo’s legacy
    In New Mexico, the tale of Lobo, “the King of Currumpaw,” is the stuff of legend. The wolf, who became infamous for killing livestock after settlers had nearly wiped out its natural prey, continually eluded capture or death. In 1893, Ernest Thompson Seton, a bounty hunter, stalked the wolf for months before finally capturing him in January 1894. Lobo died during his only night in captivity.
    The experience was life changing for Seton, who became a well-known naturalist and writer and told the story — some say in highly romanticized form — in his 1898 book “Wild Animals I Have Known.” Seton became a pivotal figure in the founding of the Boy Scouts of America and later joined the Santa Fe literary and artistic circle that included Georgia O’Keeffe, Raymond Jonson and others.
    An excellent documentary on Seton and Lobo, “The Wolf That Changed America,” aired on PBS in 2008; it’s available online at http://tinyurl.com/2uhdhlo
    Elke Duerr will give three educational outreach presentations on the Mexican gray wolf and her film in progress, “Stories of Wolves: The Lobo Returns.”
    Noon Saturday, at Wildlife West Park in Edgewood. Admission to the park is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors, $4 for students and free for children under 5. Visit www. wildlifewest.org or call 505-281-7655
    8 p.m. July 30 at The Kosmos, 1715 Fifth NW. This program will be a fundraiser for Duerr’s film project and will include a jazz performance, wine, food and a silent art auction. Admission is $15; tickets are available at www. wildwolffilm.com or at the door. Call 505-234-4611
    10 a.m. July 31 at the Open Space Visitor Center, 6500 Coors Blvd. Free. Visit www.cabq.gov/ openspace/ or call 505-897-8831
  • Albuquerque Journal

    Wednesday, December 23, 2009

    By Gilbert Apodaca

    President, Hispano Chamber of Commerce de Las Cruces

    Early this month our organizations were proud to have sponsored the seminar ‘“Wilderness Economics, Creating Jobs from Protected Lands.” We, along with 150 other attendees, listened to an impressive lineup of speakers discuss many ways Doña Ana County could help create jobs and economic development through the protection and promotion of our important wilderness areas.

    While we sometimes take for granted unique local treasures like the Organ Mountains, the reality is that we should capitalize on the appeal these public lands offer to families, businesses and recreationists. By protecting and promoting these resources, our wilderness will be good for our economy and quality of life. Wilderness Economics was a great education on how to create these economic opportunities, and given our tough economic times, this is one more reason to protect our wilderness now.

    The Hispano Chamber of Commerce de Las Cruces and the High Tech Consortium of Southern New Mexico are proud to stand in strong support of the Organ Mountains–Desert Peaks Wilderness Act to protect our wilderness areas in Doña Ana County and create national conservation areas around the Organ Mountains and Broad Canyon. We thank Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall for their vision and leadership in introducing this important legislation and helping to secure the quality of life and a bright economic future for our region.

    Protecting our spectacular natural areas — like the Organ Mountains — is critically important to protecting the quality of life we all currently enjoy and that is so important to a thriving business climate. Our incredible open space and mountains are the reasons many people and businesses move to Las Cruces or choose to stay here. Enacting a meaningful conservation vision for our community will provide a long-term boost for business, tourism and our overall economy.

    Like many communities, Las Cruces and Doña Ana County are seeking opportunities to attract and provide higher paying jobs that will allow our citizens to earn more and give families and kids the chance to have better lives. In order to attract new businesses and keep the best jobs in our community, it is essential that we protect our strongest asset, which is our quality of life.

    A recent study by the nonprofit Sonoran Institute examined how our mountains and open space have been vital to the economic success we’ve already experienced — and that are likely to play a bigger role in our economy if we enact permanent high-level protection of them. The Sonoran study, along with related research done throughout the western United States, shows the advantages to a community of having protected natural lands nearby to help recruit high-wage jobs and quality employers.

    Proof of this appeal is how our beautiful mountains and open space are often mentioned in national publications as a key reason for us being recognized as one of the top places in the country to live, run a business and retire.

    In addition to the economic value and quality of life that our mountains bring to us, it should also be pointed out that they have been integral to our culture for hundreds of years. From the time of the horse-drawn wagon caravans, people have come to the fertile Mesilla Valley to farm and settle family roots. Along the historic Camino Real trade route, our region is rich with this history, culture and countless stories from past generations, which are still alive today throughout Doña Ana County.

    Today we have a critical opportunity to advance our economy and honor our culture by protecting our Organ Mountains and other important natural crown jewels like Broad Canyon the East Potrillo Mountains. We support passage of Organ Mountains–Desert Peaks Act to secure this future; now and forever.

  • Albuquerque Journal

    Wednesday, December 23, 2009

    By Gilbert Apodaca

    President, Hispano Chamber of Commerce de Las Cruces

    Early this month our organizations were proud to have sponsored the seminar ‘“Wilderness Economics, Creating Jobs from Protected Lands.” We, along with 150 other attendees, listened to an impressive lineup of speakers discuss many ways Doña Ana County could help create jobs and economic development through the protection and promotion of our important wilderness areas.

    While we sometimes take for granted unique local treasures like the Organ Mountains, the reality is that we should capitalize on the appeal these public lands offer to families, businesses and recreationists. By protecting and promoting these resources, our wilderness will be good for our economy and quality of life. Wilderness Economics was a great education on how to create these economic opportunities, and given our tough economic times, this is one more reason to protect our wilderness now.

    The Hispano Chamber of Commerce de Las Cruces and the High Tech Consortium of Southern New Mexico are proud to stand in strong support of the Organ Mountains–Desert Peaks Wilderness Act to protect our wilderness areas in Doña Ana County and create national conservation areas around the Organ Mountains and Broad Canyon. We thank Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall for their vision and leadership in introducing this important legislation and helping to secure the quality of life and a bright economic future for our region.

    Protecting our spectacular natural areas — like the Organ Mountains — is critically important to protecting the quality of life we all currently enjoy and that is so important to a thriving business climate. Our incredible open space and mountains are the reasons many people and businesses move to Las Cruces or choose to stay here. Enacting a meaningful conservation vision for our community will provide a long-term boost for business, tourism and our overall economy.

    Like many communities, Las Cruces and Doña Ana County are seeking opportunities to attract and provide higher paying jobs that will allow our citizens to earn more and give families and kids the chance to have better lives. In order to attract new businesses and keep the best jobs in our community, it is essential that we protect our strongest asset, which is our quality of life.

    A recent study by the nonprofit Sonoran Institute examined how our mountains and open space have been vital to the economic success we’ve already experienced — and that are likely to play a bigger role in our economy if we enact permanent high-level protection of them. The Sonoran study, along with related research done throughout the western United States, shows the advantages to a community of having protected natural lands nearby to help recruit high-wage jobs and quality employers.

    Proof of this appeal is how our beautiful mountains and open space are often mentioned in national publications as a key reason for us being recognized as one of the top places in the country to live, run a business and retire.

    In addition to the economic value and quality of life that our mountains bring to us, it should also be pointed out that they have been integral to our culture for hundreds of years. From the time of the horse-drawn wagon caravans, people have come to the fertile Mesilla Valley to farm and settle family roots. Along the historic Camino Real trade route, our region is rich with this history, culture and countless stories from past generations, which are still alive today throughout Doña Ana County.

    Today we have a critical opportunity to advance our economy and honor our culture by protecting our Organ Mountains and other important natural crown jewels like Broad Canyon the East Potrillo Mountains. We support passage of Organ Mountains–Desert Peaks Act to secure this future; now and forever.

  • For Immediate Release
    Date: August 5, 2010
    Contact: Nathan Newcomer, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance
    Phone: 505-250-4225

    roadlessrecweeklogo

    Governor Richardson Proclaims First Annual
    “Roadless Recreation Week”

    Outdoor activities start Saturday in New Mexico national forests and across the country

    New Mexico, (August 5, 2010) – Governor Bill Richardson (D-NM) joins  other governors and conservation groups from across the country to support America’s first annual Roadless Recreation Week, August 7-15, which will host more than 50 recreation activities in national forest roadless areas in New Mexico and in 12 other states. The weeklong celebration highlights the importance of the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, issued to protect nearly 60 million acres of pristine national forests across the country, and encourages the public to go “all out” to enjoy the outdoor opportunities these areas provide.

    Governor Richardson issued a proclamation today to “recognize the recreational, environmental and economic values” roadless areas provide and calls the national roadless rule “one of the most popular federal policies ever developed.” The proclamation notes that roadless areas are a source of drinking water for 60 million Americans, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as recreation jobs in rural communities.

    The USDA estimates there were 173.5 million recreation visits to U.S. Forest System lands in 2009, with more than 57 percent of those visits for activities such as hiking, mountain biking and fishing.

    “People can have fun and show their support for saving these treasured places,” said Nathan Newcomer, Associate Director of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. “Roadless forests are some of the best outdoor recreation areas we have in the state, and New Mexicans are enjoying their roadless areas even more today than they did when the roadless rule was enacted in 2001.”

    The first annual Roadless Recreation Week occurs as a federal court prepares to issue an important decision about the Roadless Area Conservation Rule. The rule was issued in 2001 by the Clinton administration to protect roughly one-third of undeveloped U.S. Forest Service lands. It was the result of the largest public lands review process in U.S. history, with more than 1.2 million comments and 600 public hearings.

    The rule has been the subject of conflicting court decisions over the past decade. In August 2009, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling to reinstate the roadless rule for most roadless areas, but a Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals decision is still pending. The Obama administration has expressed strong support for the national policy, and has asked the Tenth Circuit to uphold the rule.

    New Mexico residents can go to www.nmwild.org to find out about the week’s activities in their area, and to learn how to support roadless area protection, and read Governor Richardson’s proclamation.

    CLICK HERE to view Governor Richardson’s proclamation.

  • For Immediate Release
    Date: June 24, 2010
    Contact: Nathan Newcomer, NM Wilderness Alliance
    Phone: 505-250-4225

    Bill to Expand Cibola National Forest Gets House Hearing

    NM Wilderness Leader Applauds Needed Legislation

    New Mexico Wilderness Alliance executive director Stephen Capra was on Capitol Hill today to testify in support of the Cibola National Forest Expansion legislation.  The measure, introduced by Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), would add the Crest of Montezuma to the north end of the Cibola National Forest and adds nearly 1,000 acres to the Manzano Wilderness on the forest’s western end.

    Capra praised Congressman Heinrich for his outreach to varied constituency groups – tribes, Land Grant and Acequia communities, sportsmen and conservationists – in working to expand the forest, including the addition of important acreage to the existing Manzano Mountain Wilderness.   “The final product reflects the willingness of all participants to reach a workable compromise that will benefit all concerned and ensure greater protection for these important federal lands,” Capra testified.

    “The transfer of these areas from the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management to the U.S. Forest Service as additions to the Cibola National Forest simply makes good common sense.  This action will ensure these lands are better managed—improving their recreational and wildlife habitat values,” he said.

    The Sandia Mountains are known by Native Americans as the Watermelon Mountains, because of the beautiful colors that reflect off these peaks at sunset.  They are the dramatic backdrop of Albuquerque and a source of recreational opportunity and solitude for urban dwellers.  In 1978, New Mexico Senator Pete V. Domenici, working with conservationists and a diverse group of stakeholders, championed legislation creating the 38,000-acre Sandia Wilderness. This measure has since then provided Albuquerque residents a stunning landscape – free of development, which has become a staple for those looking for quiet recreation or to enjoy the beauty and solitude the “Land of Enchantment” has to offer.

    “The addition of the Crest of Montezuma is an important addition to the Cibola National Forest,” Capra said.  “Bringing this area under the management of the U.S. Forest Service is also widely supported by the neighboring community of Placitas, where people have long asked for an expansion of the wilderness boundaries.”   Capra noted that both the Crest of Montezuma and the Manzanos are important wildlife corridors, home to deer, elk, black bear and mountain lion.

    “For more than a quarter century, a small piece of the Manzano mountain has been left out of the wilderness boundary, leaving management of this area confusing and disconnected,” Capa testified.   “Congressman Heinrich has engendered solid collaboration and outreach to the Land Grant community and local sportsmen here to ensure that all-important voices have been heard as he developed this legislation.”

    “The addition of the new wilderness will only enhance this remarkable landscape —where one can drop into a narrow canyon in the fall and enjoy the beauty of the native maple forests, or stand on the mountaintop and gaze literally hundreds of miles and see distant mountain ranges, the green cut of the Rio Grande, and watch hawks and Golden Eagles flying across this great expanse of American wilderness,” he concluded.

  • The Mexican gray wolf is the most endangered wolf in the world, with a total population of less than 50 in the wild.

    To assist Mexican gray wolf recovery efforts, the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance is offering a limited edition of the first Mexican Wolf  Conservation Stamp sold in the United States. The 2011 wolf stamp pictured here is not a postage stamp, but the first in an annual series of framing-quality art prints offered to collectors.

    The Mexican Wolf Conservation Stamp is a project similar to the Duck Stamp sold by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, but with no relation to hunting. Proceeds from Wolf Stamp sales are used for a  Mexican Wolf Conservation Stamp Fund, administered by NM Wild and distributed to organizations and individuals working for Mexican gray wolf recovery. NM Wild awarded its first Mexican Wolf Conservation Stamp Fund grant in November 2010, to conservationist Elke Duerr for her Wild Wolf Film project. READ THE PRESS RELEASE here.

    NM Wild looks forward to administering further grants, and plans to issue a new wolf stamp each year in this ongoing project to help bring back the Lobo.

    Order the wolf stamp onlinethrough our secure cart, or by calling Trisha London at 505-843-8696 x 100. Cost is $20 (+ $2 shipping) for this 4″x5″ full-color print.

    Learn more about the artist, New Mexico’s Virginia Maria Romero, on her website at http://virginiamariaromero.com/

  • For Immediate Release
    Date: October 27, 2010

    Contact: Dr. Kirk Emerson, Kirk Emerson & Associates
    Phone: 520-690-5970
    Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Contact: Lynn Scarlett, Former Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior
    Phone: 805-895-7057

    Contact: Ron Colburn, Former Deputy Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol
    Phone: 571-217-2626

    Agency Coordination Improves Border Security and Public Lands Protection

    New Report Presents Case Studies, Other Examples of Successful Agency Efforts

    A new research report released today documents how interagency cooperation along the U.S.-Mexico border has improved both border security and the protection of wilderness areas and wildlife refuges adjacent to the border. “Interagency Cooperation on U.S.-Mexico Border Wilderness Issues,” authored by Dr. Kirk Emerson, environmental mediator and research associate at the University of Arizona’ s School of Government and Public Policy and the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, overviews numerous successful cooperative inter-agency activities occurring along the southwestern U.S. border in wilderness and other protected areas despite challenges that can make such cooperation difficult.

    The report includes six border area case studies—from Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California— and numerous other examples of successful collaboration to meet the twin goals of national security and public lands stewardship by agencies within the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security, Interior, and Agriculture, with an emphasis on U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) and federal land management agencies. The report is based on research Dr. Emerson conducted during the summer of 2010, including over 50 interviews with border security professionals, land management agencies, and border areas.

    Recent media reports have emphasized—and in some cases sensationalized—the challenges of meeting these twin goals and cases where total success has been elusive. However, the reality is that, after much trial and error, cooperation among federal departments and agencies charged with protection of the border and public land management has improved and led to many successes in the past few years. This report generally corroborates the results of a recently issued GAO report on interagency cooperation that found increased collaboration among the Border Patrol and federal land management agencies.

    “Close collaboration between the Border Patrol and the Department of the Interior on many stretches of the border, including wilderness areas, has improved border security while sustaining land protections and community livelihoods,” said Lynn Scarlett, former deputy secretary of the Department of the Interior under President George W. Bush.

    The report provides examples of this cooperation in a variety of contexts including interagency communications, enhanced joint capacity, border security assistance by land management agencies, assistance in mitigation and restoration, and joint efforts to protect public health and safety.

    “There can be no compromise in securing America against those who would do us harm. But, common sense solutions can be achieved,” said Ron Colburn, former deputy chief of the U.S. Border Patrol who worked at the agency for over 31 years. “ I believe that the collaborative process has produced and will continue to produce righteous outcomes in protecting America while also protecting our pristine wild lands.”

    One of the report’ s case studies analyzes the consultative and stakeholder process behind the proposed Organ Mountains–Desert Peaks Wilderness Act (S. 1689). The provisions of this bill would create new wilderness and protected areas near the border that, according to Commissioner Alan Bersin of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, “ would significantly enhance the flexibility of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to operate in this border area.”

    Dr. Kirk Emerson is also the former director of the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution of the Morris K. and Stewart L. Udall Foundation. She has authored several peer-reviewed publications and book chapters on collaborative resource management and environmental conflict resolution (see http:/ /home.mindspring.com/~kirk_emerson).

    This research report was completed for the New Mexico Wildlife Federation and the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance.

    “Interagency Cooperation on U.S.-Mexico Border Wilderness Issues” can be found online at: http://kirk_emerson.home.mindspring.com/Interagency_Border_Cooperation.pdf.

    For more information: Nathan Newcomer, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, 505-250-4225, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • U.S. Rep. Harry Teague among those who show up; Bingaman says there’s not yet a timeline for moving the legislation forward

    By Heath Haussamen – NMPolititcs.net – 2/15/10 8:52 PM

    Udall, left, listens as Bingaman speaks at today’s hearing. (Photo by Heath Haussamen)

    Hundreds of people showed up in Las Cruces today for an official U.S. Senate hearing on a proposal from Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall, D-N.M., to protect more than 300,000 acres of land in Doña Ana County.

    Those in attendance included U.S. Rep. Harry Teague, D-N.M., who is in a tough re-election battle and said more today about the contentious wilderness proposal than he has publicly in the past.

    While not taking a stand on the senators’ bill, Teague said he has a “commitment to hearing all sides.” He said he supports “efforts to conserve” the land but said he also has questions, including some about law enforcement access to roadless areas and flood control.

    “No one group will – or should – get everything out of this process that they want,” Teague said during the hearing. “But in the end, what we do must be right for Doña Ana County and right for this nation.”

    During the hearing, Bingaman said he believes “there is support in Doña Ana County to provide protection for lands.” Udall added that the bill “seeks to preserve… in perpetuity,” the beauty that is the draw for many people who live in the area.

    Before the hearing, Bingaman said bill he and Udall introduced in September could change, and there’s not yet a timeline for moving it forward to a Senate vote.

    “I think Sen. Udall and I want to make sure that we understand everyone’s perspective, and that’s what today is about,” Bingaman said.

    Teague, during the hearing, called the Organ Mountains “the goose that lays the golden economic egg” and said “we’d better tend carefully to that goose.”

    “The peaks of the Organ Mountains define Las Cruces, just as the Empire State Building defines New York City and Cowboys Stadium defines Dallas,” Teague said.

    Chamber supports wilderness for Organ Mountains

    The official Energy and Natural Resources Committee field hearing included testimony from people Bingaman invited to speak–but not other public input. Still, Bingaman, the committee’s chairman, made sure divergent opinions were represented. Several of those invited to give testimony expressed concerns or spoke against the bill.

    That included the Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce’s John Hummer, who said the chamber pledges its “full support” for designating the Organ Mountains as wilderness but has concerns about proposed wilderness designations for other areas in the county.

    The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Wilderness Act would designate 259,000 acres as wilderness and 100,000 acres as national conservation areas. In addition to the Organ Mountains, land on and around the Robledo, Doña Ana and Potrillo mountains would be protected.

    The bill would also release 16,350 acres currently designated as a wilderness study area along the county’s border with Mexico. That’s intended to address concerns that law enforcement patrols are hampered by rules against motorized vehicles entering the protected area.

    Hummer said the chamber has concerns based on the area’s “economic demands” in addition to questions similar to those raised by Teague.

    A big show of support

    There was a big show of support at the hearing for the bill.

    Las Cruces Mayor Pro Tem Sharon Thomas said during the hearing that the senators’ proposal has widespread community support and strikes the appropriate balance between differing opinions. She said the legislation is necessary to preserve the landscape, protect the water and grow the economy.

    “I urge you to move forward with all possible haste,” Thomas said.

    Before the hearing, New Mexico State University graduate student Martin Moses, who helped start a local chapter of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance on campus, spoke in favor of the legislation.

    “It’s vital if we’re going to protect the land,” he said. “Las Cruces is growing by leaps and bounds.”

    Las Cruces City Councilor Nathan Small, who works for the Wilderness Alliance, said the bill’s time has come.

    “It’s been proven many times that this is what our community desires,” he said. “There are no more excuses. That’s what today is about, is taking that final step.”

    Some protesters

    The hearing was also well attended by people who oppose the legislation. And about 15 of them – including members of the Las Cruces TEA Party – stood outside NMSU’s Corbett Center and held up signs opposing the legislation before the hearing. Among those protesters was James Belver of Tularosa, who was gathering opposition signatures on a petition.

    “We don’t want a government takeover of American land. That’s God-given land,” he said. “They think they have the authority to take it away. I could see some management, but not a complete lockout.”

    Wilderness areas allow human recreation and horses, but not cars, bicycles or other mechanized equipment.

  • U.S. Rep. Harry Teague among those who show up; Bingaman says there’s not yet a timeline for moving the legislation forward

    By Heath Haussamen – NMPolititcs.net – 2/15/10 8:52 PM

    Udall, left, listens as Bingaman speaks at today’s hearing. (Photo by Heath Haussamen)

    Hundreds of people showed up in Las Cruces today for an official U.S. Senate hearing on a proposal from Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall, D-N.M., to protect more than 300,000 acres of land in Doña Ana County.

    Those in attendance included U.S. Rep. Harry Teague, D-N.M., who is in a tough re-election battle and said more today about the contentious wilderness proposal than he has publicly in the past.

    While not taking a stand on the senators’ bill, Teague said he has a “commitment to hearing all sides.” He said he supports “efforts to conserve” the land but said he also has questions, including some about law enforcement access to roadless areas and flood control.

    “No one group will – or should – get everything out of this process that they want,” Teague said during the hearing. “But in the end, what we do must be right for Doña Ana County and right for this nation.”

    During the hearing, Bingaman said he believes “there is support in Doña Ana County to provide protection for lands.” Udall added that the bill “seeks to preserve… in perpetuity,” the beauty that is the draw for many people who live in the area.

    Before the hearing, Bingaman said bill he and Udall introduced in September could change, and there’s not yet a timeline for moving it forward to a Senate vote.

    “I think Sen. Udall and I want to make sure that we understand everyone’s perspective, and that’s what today is about,” Bingaman said.

    Teague, during the hearing, called the Organ Mountains “the goose that lays the golden economic egg” and said “we’d better tend carefully to that goose.”

    “The peaks of the Organ Mountains define Las Cruces, just as the Empire State Building defines New York City and Cowboys Stadium defines Dallas,” Teague said.

    Chamber supports wilderness for Organ Mountains

    The official Energy and Natural Resources Committee field hearing included testimony from people Bingaman invited to speak–but not other public input. Still, Bingaman, the committee’s chairman, made sure divergent opinions were represented. Several of those invited to give testimony expressed concerns or spoke against the bill.

    That included the Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce’s John Hummer, who said the chamber pledges its “full support” for designating the Organ Mountains as wilderness but has concerns about proposed wilderness designations for other areas in the county.

    The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Wilderness Act would designate 259,000 acres as wilderness and 100,000 acres as national conservation areas. In addition to the Organ Mountains, land on and around the Robledo, Doña Ana and Potrillo mountains would be protected.

    The bill would also release 16,350 acres currently designated as a wilderness study area along the county’s border with Mexico. That’s intended to address concerns that law enforcement patrols are hampered by rules against motorized vehicles entering the protected area.

    Hummer said the chamber has concerns based on the area’s “economic demands” in addition to questions similar to those raised by Teague.

    A big show of support

    There was a big show of support at the hearing for the bill.

    Las Cruces Mayor Pro Tem Sharon Thomas said during the hearing that the senators’ proposal has widespread community support and strikes the appropriate balance between differing opinions. She said the legislation is necessary to preserve the landscape, protect the water and grow the economy.

    “I urge you to move forward with all possible haste,” Thomas said.

    Before the hearing, New Mexico State University graduate student Martin Moses, who helped start a local chapter of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance on campus, spoke in favor of the legislation.

    “It’s vital if we’re going to protect the land,” he said. “Las Cruces is growing by leaps and bounds.”

    Las Cruces City Councilor Nathan Small, who works for the Wilderness Alliance, said the bill’s time has come.

    “It’s been proven many times that this is what our community desires,” he said. “There are no more excuses. That’s what today is about, is taking that final step.”

    Some protesters

    The hearing was also well attended by people who oppose the legislation. And about 15 of them – including members of the Las Cruces TEA Party – stood outside NMSU’s Corbett Center and held up signs opposing the legislation before the hearing. Among those protesters was James Belver of Tularosa, who was gathering opposition signatures on a petition.

    “We don’t want a government takeover of American land. That’s God-given land,” he said. “They think they have the authority to take it away. I could see some management, but not a complete lockout.”

    Wilderness areas allow human recreation and horses, but not cars, bicycles or other mechanized equipment.

  • For Immediate Release
    Date: November 3, 2010
    Contact: Stephen Capra, The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance
    Phone: 505-843-8696 x 105
    Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    wolfstamp 200x250New Mexico Wilderness Alliance Awards First Conservation Wolf Stamp Grant to Conservationist Elke Duerr of Wild Wolf Film

    The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance (NMWA) is excited to announce that it has awarded its first-ever Conservation Wolf Stamp Grant to film maker and conservationist Elke Duerr for her Wild Wolf Film project.

    The grant of $2,500 supports Ms. Duerr’s Wild Wolf Film, a multi-year outreach effort educating the public on Mexican Gray Wolf reintroduction, and “advancing the coexistence of wilderness and civilization.”

    “Ms. Duerr has shown the heart and passion needed by us all if we are to save this magnificent creature,” said NMWA Executive Director Stephen Capra. “The present political climate only amplifies the need for people like Elke to help spread the word on the value of protecting species like the Mexican wolf to maintain a healthy ecosystem.”

    Upon receiving the award, Duerr commented: “Thank you to the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance for acknowledging my efforts to aid in the recovery of the Mexican Gray Wolves by awarding me a grant. It is my heart’s desire to create awareness for the interconnectedness and beauty of all life on this planet and to help implement creative solutions to a healthy coexistence between wolves and humans. We all belong in the web of life.”

    The grant is the first to be awarded from NMWA’s Conservation Wolf Stamp Fund, generated from the sale of NMWA’s first-ever Conservation Wolf Stamp. NMWA’s Conservation Wolf Stamp is similar to the Duck Stamp sold by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, except no hunting is related to the sale of the Wolf Stamp. All proceeds go into the Conservation Wolf Stamp Fund, administered by NMWA and distributed directly to projects and organizations working for Mexican Gray Wolf recovery.

    NMWA will award further grants to worthy projects in the coming months, and looks forward to releasing a new Wolf Stamp for sale each year to support the Conservation Wolf Stamp Fund. To learn more about the Conservation Wolf Stamp, visit the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance website.

    Read about Elke Duerr’s Wild Wolf Film project on the artist’s website, http://www.wildwolffilm.com/

  • Doña Ana County Wilderness: 
    One Step Closer, Biggest Challenge Remains

    July 21st—With strong bipartisan support, the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Wilderness Act, S. 1689 passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee today. The legislation will protect over 300,000 acres of public land as Wilderness and National Conservation Areas. Wilderness conservation in the Organ Mountains and other nearby natural treasures has been a top community priority for over five years. It awaits final Senate action.

    Senior NM Senator Jeff Bingaman’s outstanding leadership, combined with NM Senator Tom Udall’s strong support has built a bill supported by thousands of citizens, four local elected governments, two local Chambers of Commerce, half a dozen local sportsmen organizations, community groups and conservation organizations.

    It is time to thank Sen. Bingaman and Sen. Udall for their incredible wilderness conservation work!

    CLICK HERE to thank our Senators for being wilderness champions.

    Please take the time to follow the link above and send Senators Bingaman and Udall a letter, to thank them for today and ask that they continue working for successful passage of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Wilderness Act in this Congress!

    And, listen to radio coverage of today’s hearing:

    Public News Service-NM
    July 21, 2010: (New Mexico’s) Organs Play on Capitol Hill Today

    Click here to view this story on the Public News Service RSS site and access an audio version of this and other stories.

  • Their View: Wilderness and border security for the long term

    By Paul J. Deason / For the Sun-News

    Posted: 05/03/2010 09:44:22 AM MDT

    Original Posting at http://www.lcsun-news.com/las_cruces-opinion/ci_15006689

    I would like to thank local real estate developer Mr. John Hummer for sharing his thoughts regarding the Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks Wilderness Act currently being considered by the U.S. Senate in light of the recent cross-border security incidents in Arizona. We all agree that more needs to be done to strengthen border security. However, several of his points must be clarified so that we may move forward toward the goals of more tightly securing our border and protecting our natural lands. As a professional with a wide range of national security experience at the federal level, I have followed the wilderness debate with interest for the past 5 years. Based on this experience, it is clear to me that these goals are not mutually exclusive and that the issue of border security has been very thoughtfully addressed by Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall in the development of the Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks Wilderness Act.

    Last month, we were all saddened to learn of a border rancher killed in Arizona. This tragic occurrence has sparked a more vigorous public discussion and a heightened awareness of the response and resources needed to secure our southern border. Unfortunately, some have attempted to politicize this tragedy by linking it with the designation of public lands as wilderness. However, the simple fact is that this rancher lived nowhere near a wilderness area. Rather, the solution lies in enhancing our overall border security enforcement.

    The Southwest New Mexico Border Security Task Force, convened by Sen. Bingaman in 2003, has brought together border residents and law enforcement agencies at all levels to discuss concrete ways to improve border security. In implementing the Task Force recommendations, the number of Border Patrol agents working along the border in New Mexico has nearly tripled, and fences and vehicle barriers have been constructed along the entire stretch of border with Doña Ana County. According to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) statistics, the number of undocumented immigrants coming into New Mexico has dramatically decreased over the last five years. Nonetheless, everyone recognizes more work is needed.

    As we look to enhance security specifically within Doña Ana County and discuss the proposal to protect the important Potrillo Mountains near the border, we should consider the facts. First, because the Potrillo Mountains are incredibly rugged and in some places more than 20 miles across, very few people try to traverse this area. Despite the fact that this area has been protected as a wilderness study area for the past 30 years, this is not a path most can endure, particularly when there are flat lands just to the east and west. Second, travelers on foot or by vehicle seeking to cross the Potrillos would still need to successfully traverse several miles of open land and cross a highway – land all patrolled and monitored by the Border Patrol.

    Third, as Mr. Hummer points out, there is an existing agreement between the BLM and Border Patrol that allows law enforcement to pursue someone that has entered public federal lands, including wilderness areas. This agreement has worked very well.

    Finally, Mr. Hummer is either mistaken or intentionally misleading in his depiction of the Border Patrol’s ability to patrol Highway 9. The truth is that the current West Potrillo Mountains Wilderness Study Area boundary extends all the way to the edge of the highway. If anything, the Border Patrol is more constrained from patrolling north of Highway 9 now than under the senators’ proposal. Instead, Sens. Bingaman and Udall propose to create a buffer zone of several miles between the border, Highway 9, and the proposed Potrillo Mountain Wilderness. Unlike in Arizona where some wilderness areas share a boundary with Mexico, the proposed Potrillo Mountains Wilderness would have a buffer precisely to give Border Patrol more flexibility to conduct routine patrols on both sides of highway.

    Given the facts, residents of Doña Ana County should be confident that protection of critical environmental resources close to the border will not fundamentally weaken our security position. Again, in ways mentioned above the security of the area may even be enhanced. With the growth of Doña Ana County, Las Cruces and El Paso it is clear that we need to protect our pristine wilderness areas now before they are lost to land development and illegal off-road vehicle abuse. The Potrillo Mountains are one of the last great unprotected landscapes in New Mexico. They posses an incredible diversity of animal and plant life, and are prized by area sportsman, hikers, birders, horseman and more.

    As we come to grips with the root causes of our border issues, we cannot lose sight of the long-lasting and permanent effect of losing our pristine natural areas to unfettered development and terrain exploitation. We can and we must achieve the dual goals of wilderness protection and border security. Both are important to protecting our future, and the values that we hold dear as New Mexicans. We should all stand shoulder to shoulder by providing historic protections for our most important public lands. From my analysis the plan is sound and will allow for improved border security through the security buffer zone created by Sens. Bingaman and Udall combined with the additional measures the delegation is pursuing with the Department of Homeland Security. We can all be proud of this legislation, and I urge everyone to say yes to wilderness in Doña Ana County.

    Paul J. Deason, Ph.D, is a resident of Las Cruces and currently serves as a member of the U.S. Department of Justice Anti Terrorism Advisory Council.

  • Their View: Wilderness and border security for the long term

    By Paul J. Deason / For the Sun-News

    Posted: 05/03/2010 09:44:22 AM MDT

    Original Posting at http://www.lcsun-news.com/las_cruces-opinion/ci_15006689

    I would like to thank local real estate developer Mr. John Hummer for sharing his thoughts regarding the Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks Wilderness Act currently being considered by the U.S. Senate in light of the recent cross-border security incidents in Arizona. We all agree that more needs to be done to strengthen border security. However, several of his points must be clarified so that we may move forward toward the goals of more tightly securing our border and protecting our natural lands. As a professional with a wide range of national security experience at the federal level, I have followed the wilderness debate with interest for the past 5 years. Based on this experience, it is clear to me that these goals are not mutually exclusive and that the issue of border security has been very thoughtfully addressed by Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall in the development of the Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks Wilderness Act.

    Last month, we were all saddened to learn of a border rancher killed in Arizona. This tragic occurrence has sparked a more vigorous public discussion and a heightened awareness of the response and resources needed to secure our southern border. Unfortunately, some have attempted to politicize this tragedy by linking it with the designation of public lands as wilderness. However, the simple fact is that this rancher lived nowhere near a wilderness area. Rather, the solution lies in enhancing our overall border security enforcement.

    The Southwest New Mexico Border Security Task Force, convened by Sen. Bingaman in 2003, has brought together border residents and law enforcement agencies at all levels to discuss concrete ways to improve border security. In implementing the Task Force recommendations, the number of Border Patrol agents working along the border in New Mexico has nearly tripled, and fences and vehicle barriers have been constructed along the entire stretch of border with Doña Ana County. According to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) statistics, the number of undocumented immigrants coming into New Mexico has dramatically decreased over the last five years. Nonetheless, everyone recognizes more work is needed.

    As we look to enhance security specifically within Doña Ana County and discuss the proposal to protect the important Potrillo Mountains near the border, we should consider the facts. First, because the Potrillo Mountains are incredibly rugged and in some places more than 20 miles across, very few people try to traverse this area. Despite the fact that this area has been protected as a wilderness study area for the past 30 years, this is not a path most can endure, particularly when there are flat lands just to the east and west. Second, travelers on foot or by vehicle seeking to cross the Potrillos would still need to successfully traverse several miles of open land and cross a highway – land all patrolled and monitored by the Border Patrol.

    Third, as Mr. Hummer points out, there is an existing agreement between the BLM and Border Patrol that allows law enforcement to pursue someone that has entered public federal lands, including wilderness areas. This agreement has worked very well.

    Finally, Mr. Hummer is either mistaken or intentionally misleading in his depiction of the Border Patrol’s ability to patrol Highway 9. The truth is that the current West Potrillo Mountains Wilderness Study Area boundary extends all the way to the edge of the highway. If anything, the Border Patrol is more constrained from patrolling north of Highway 9 now than under the senators’ proposal. Instead, Sens. Bingaman and Udall propose to create a buffer zone of several miles between the border, Highway 9, and the proposed Potrillo Mountain Wilderness. Unlike in Arizona where some wilderness areas share a boundary with Mexico, the proposed Potrillo Mountains Wilderness would have a buffer precisely to give Border Patrol more flexibility to conduct routine patrols on both sides of highway.

    Given the facts, residents of Doña Ana County should be confident that protection of critical environmental resources close to the border will not fundamentally weaken our security position. Again, in ways mentioned above the security of the area may even be enhanced. With the growth of Doña Ana County, Las Cruces and El Paso it is clear that we need to protect our pristine wilderness areas now before they are lost to land development and illegal off-road vehicle abuse. The Potrillo Mountains are one of the last great unprotected landscapes in New Mexico. They posses an incredible diversity of animal and plant life, and are prized by area sportsman, hikers, birders, horseman and more.

    As we come to grips with the root causes of our border issues, we cannot lose sight of the long-lasting and permanent effect of losing our pristine natural areas to unfettered development and terrain exploitation. We can and we must achieve the dual goals of wilderness protection and border security. Both are important to protecting our future, and the values that we hold dear as New Mexicans. We should all stand shoulder to shoulder by providing historic protections for our most important public lands. From my analysis the plan is sound and will allow for improved border security through the security buffer zone created by Sens. Bingaman and Udall combined with the additional measures the delegation is pursuing with the Department of Homeland Security. We can all be proud of this legislation, and I urge everyone to say yes to wilderness in Doña Ana County.

    Paul J. Deason, Ph.D, is a resident of Las Cruces and currently serves as a member of the U.S. Department of Justice Anti Terrorism Advisory Council.

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