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2011

  • Demand that the House Natural Resource Committee hear H. 1241, the Rio Grande Del Norte National Conservation Area Establishment Act

    Republican leaders are calling the Rio Grande del Norte legislation a “land grab” and refuse to hear any Democratic legislation. Demand that this bill be heard by the House Natural Resources Committee.

    Sportsmen, conservationists, small business owners and citizens across New Mexico have shown suport for this legislation, which would create a nearly 236,000-acre conservation area including two new wildernesses. The Rio Grande del Norte National Conservation Area Establishment Act will safeguard some of northern New Mexico’s most striking wild places, including the iconic Ute Mountain.

    Moreover, the bill supports traditional communities and cultures in Northern New Mexico. It is the first legislation to explicitly honor and acknowledge the rights of land grant communities under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and it protects traditional harvesting and gathering practices of Native American groups.

    Let your voice be heard by writing Congressmen Lujan, Hastings (WA) and Bishop (UT).

  • Demand that the House Natural Resource Committee hear H. 1241, the Rio Grande Del Norte National Conservation Area Establishment Act

    Republican leaders are calling the Rio Grande del Norte legislation a “land grab” and refuse to hear any Democratic legislation. Demand that this bill be heard by the House Natural Resources Committee.

    Sportsmen, conservationists, small business owners and citizens across New Mexico have shown suport for this legislation, which would create a nearly 236,000-acre conservation area including two new wildernesses. The Rio Grande del Norte National Conservation Area Establishment Act will safeguard some of northern New Mexico’s most striking wild places, including the iconic Ute Mountain.

    Moreover, the bill supports traditional communities and cultures in Northern New Mexico. It is the first legislation to explicitly honor and acknowledge the rights of land grant communities under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and it protects traditional harvesting and gathering practices of Native American groups.

    Let your voice be heard by writing Congressmen Lujan, Hastings (WA) and Bishop (UT).

  • The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance has been working closely with Traditional Elders of the Mescalero Apache to build community support for Otero Mesa National Monument. This article highlights the Mescalero elders’ decision to formally back monument designation for the Otero Mesa region.

    Mescalero group holds Otero Mesa sacred

    Alamogordo Daily News
    By Elva K. Osterreich, Associate News Editor
    1/30/2011

    Officially advocating for Otero Mesa to become a national monument, a group of Mescalero elders are making their voices heard on behalf of the grasslands of southern Otero County.

    The mission of the group is to preserve Otero Mesa and insure the history of the Mescalero Apache connection to the area is recognized.

    “We envision Otero Mesa as a place for Apache youth programs that will educate and inspire them by the unique lifestyle of their ancestors,” says their mission statement.

    Members of the group feel many from Mescalero have lost the connection with their past and would like to see the youth of the tribes become more involved in the history and legacy of the people.

    “English is my second language. I was taught Apache first,” said Ted Rodriguez, who is head of the Traditional Elders Council and serves on various tribal committees. “We are retaining those traditional values, It is hard to see the young people not have these values.”

    Otero Mesa served as a sanctuary of sorts for the ancient Native Americans, mostly of various Apache tribes, who moved through the grasslands.

    “As far as I’m concerned that’s where our ancestors roamed,” Rodriguez said. “A lot of the Apaches here don’t realize we have that history.”

    Rodriguez called it a place to lose track of the world, a paradise to be cherished and loved.

    “Personal and world problems can take a back seat to the peacefulness that I feel,” he said. “I hope to work with young people in the schools, show them what their ancestors experienced. It is a personal thing I’m doing.”

    Alfred LaPaz, another member of the group, has been on the tribal council and served in law enforcement. He is worried about the possibility of oil and gas drilling on the mesa.

    “The state has few places left that can be used (by the oil and gas industry) and this could be the last on in the state that could be saved,” LaPaz said.

    He said he wants to build up an interest amongst the Mescalero to get more involved in the traditional past.

    “We need discussions about how our people roamed out there and live out there,” he said. “I feel the area is part of our people, like holy lands.”

    If the federal government does make Otero Mesa into a National Monument, LaPaz would like to see the Mescalero play a part in whatever might happen there. He feels his people can share their culture and heritage with visitors.

    The reservation schools have taken a step toward educating the students in traditional ways, LaPaz said.

    “They started setting up programs where the elders are teaching the language to the youth,” he said. “I feel pride that people are wanting to show and teach our younger people. I think we are a step ahead.”

    Otero Mesa is a beautiful piece of land, LaPaz said. He said he has seen a lot of animals out there, including birds, eagles and pronghorn.

    Larry Shay also served on the tribal council and is the supervisor of the Mescalero Apache Arts program.

    He said his people have lost their nomadic tendencies, but there is an underlaying knowledge that once the Apache had a much bigger land base than they do now.

    “We hardly go here and there anymore,” he said. “But there is knowledge that the place was a place of refuge for my people culturally and traditionally.”

    Shay said once the people moved with the climate, wintering on the Gulf of Mexico and moving north and south through Otero Mesa on their journeys. The nomadic lifestyle the Apache ancestors lived involved family groups, small bands as opposed to large ones.

    “They thought it was a haven place for the people with plenty of vegetation and wildlife,” he said. “Apaches didn’t take it for granted didn’t deplete the resources.”

    Shay and the others feel the resources should be protected. The water, vegetation and creatures that live there should be taken care of. He is in favor of managing the resources to the benefit of everybody.

    As nomads, the people took only what they needed to survive.

    “Still today the native people only take what they need,” Shay said.

    The fourth member of the group is not an elder but is the head of the Mescalero Apache Dance Group. His position does not allow for his name to be shared.

    “I’m a tribal member and traditional leader,” the dancer said. “Anything that has to do with Apache sites is important for the Apache people to be part of the circle. The ancestors have been there for many years.”

    There are a number of archeological sites on Otero Mesa that are Apache towns or camps, the dancer said.

    “A lot of our people didn’t know that existed,” he said. “These are deep roots for these people.”

    The younger generation is getting stronger with the language and traditions, he said. The mesa is sacred like a church.

    “You wouldn’t tear down a church and put up oil wells would you,” the dancer said. “Here are the roots of our heritage.”

    Styve Homnick is the only member of the group who is not Apache. He has worked for and with the tribe for more than 40 years.

    Homnick has found healing in southern New Mexico and Otero Mesa is a big part of that.

    “Everything I have around me, wild flowers, animals, trees and grasses, truly healed me,” he said. “I love working in groups that have a passion to create happiness. Making Otero Mesa a national monument would bring a lot of happiness to people. To turn it into oil fields would be so sacrilegious.”

    Homnick said the problem is a factor of oil and water. There is no way to get away with pulling oil from the land without polluting the water. Also, the oil available in Otero Mesa is “peanuts” he said but the water can serve the population of southern New Mexico for at least 100 years.

    Original posting at http://www.alamogordonews.com/ci_17240835

  • By Dr. Deni Seymour for Ruidoso News
    11/23/11

    The ancestral Apache and contemporaneous mobile peoples used Otero Mesa and the surrounding basins and mountain ranges throughout the late prehistoric and historic periods.

    Because of its remote location the mesa represents a special part of the Apachean landscape. Otero Mesa possesses some of the most unique feature types known for these groups because of its geographic placement. The sites and features identified here have been instrumental in understanding the early presence of Apache in the Southern Southwest, in identifying new uniquely Apache feature types, and isolating changes in rock art through time. The landscape is fragile, its features rare, its remoteness astonishing.

    As seventeenth-century Spanish settlers looked north from their riverside settlements they saw flickers of light in the surrounding mountains. Though no brighter than the stars in the clear desert sky, they were far more ominous because these settlers knew what they represented: fires in the encampments of the enemy — the Apache and their allies.

    Read more 

  • By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN / Associated Press
    Posted: 02/23/2011 11:04:01 AM MST

    ALBUQUERQUE – The rolling hills and grasslands of southern New Mexico’s Otero Mesa have served as a battleground for environmentalists and the oil and natural gas industry for the past decade, and now a dozen new mining claims in the area have sparked concern among a coalition of environmental groups.

    Denver-based Geovic Mining Corp. has staked more than 50 20-acre claims in the hope of finding sources of zirconium and rare earth minerals. However, Geovic is still in the early stages of analyzing rock samples collected from the surface, a company official said.

    “We think the area where we staked these claims at least has the potential to have interesting quantities of those minerals, but we have a long way to go before we could even begin to think about any kind of project there,” Jack Sherborne, head of the company’s new ventures division, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

    Home to hundreds of species of plants, animals and insects, Otero Mesa is the largest publicly owned expanse of undisturbed Chihuahuan desert grassland in the United States. A portion of the mesa is designated as an area of critical environmental concern, and former Gov. Bill Richardson and environmentalists have pushed in recent years for federal protection of the mesa as a national monument.

    Environmentalists consider mining as a “volatile threat” to Otero Mesa, and the mining claims have resulted in a renewed call for protecting the area. “Without the permanent protection that it deserves, Otero Mesa is always going to be one drill bit, one mine shaft or one spill away from being lost to us,” said Nathan Newcomer, associate director of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance.

    Newcomer said he was hiking on Otero Mesa around Deer and Wind mountains last month and spotted one of Geovic’s claim stakes.

    The concern, Newcomer said, is that hard rock mining is governed by the 1872 Mining Act, which gives mining preference over other uses on much of the nation’s public land. The law has changed little since first adopted, and critics have argued it is outdated and was never intended for the mining operations that tie up large parcels of federal land in the West without paying fair market value.

    “Even with the problems we have environmentally with oil and gas, they pay their fair share when it comes to leasing rights and mineral rights and royalties. The hard rock mining industry does not because of the old law,” said John Cornell of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, a sportsmen’s group that supports protecting Otero Mesa.

    The environmental groups also are concerned that mining on the mesa could change the landscape by altering wildlife habitat, soil composition and underground aquifers.

    Bureau of Land Management officials in southern New Mexico said Geovic would have to meet specific standards depending on the work it intends to do. If more than 5 acres are to be disturbed on any one of the claims, the company would have to submit a mine operation plan.

    The company would also have to apply for a state mining permit. That process involves public notification and allows for appeals and court action. The BLM is also working on an updated version of its resource management plan for the region that includes Otero Mesa, and officials said alternatives for expanding protections for environmentally sensitive areas could ultimately impact the activities that are allowed in the area. The plan is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

    Interest in finding domestic sources of rare earth minerals has steadily increased over the past year, but the previous battles over Otero Mesa are not lost on Geovic.

    “It’s clear there are a lot of people who are concerned about it,” Sherborne said. “We always try to address the things that we do in a responsible manner and of course as we find out more about trying to work in that particular area, if there are things that are just not possible to do, then of course we won’t do them.”

  • mexican wolf 8 FWS 250x165Help protect the critically endangered Mexican gray wolf with your artwork

    The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance invites submissions for the 2012 Mexican Wolf Conservation Stamp.  Artists worldwide are invited to enter two-dimensional drawings, paintings, or photographs featuring the Mexican gray wolf.  The winning artwork will be featured on the 2012 stamp that will be sold to raise funds to support Mexican wolf conservation projects and educate the public.  All artwork must be scalable to the size of the stamp, 4-inches wide by 5-inches tall.  Artwork will not be returned unless self addressed envelope with postage is provided.  Please submit entries by December 31, 2011 to New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, Mexican Wolf Conservation Stamp Fund, PO Box 25464, Albuquerque, NM 87125.

  • mexican wolf 8 FWS 250x165Help protect the critically endangered Mexican gray wolf with your artwork

    The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance invites submissions for the 2012 Mexican Wolf Conservation Stamp.  Artists worldwide are invited to enter two-dimensional drawings, paintings, or photographs featuring the Mexican gray wolf.  The winning artwork will be featured on the 2012 stamp that will be sold to raise funds to support Mexican wolf conservation projects and educate the public.  All artwork must be scalable to the size of the stamp, 4-inches wide by 5-inches tall.  Artwork will not be returned unless self addressed envelope with postage is provided.  Please submit entries by December 31, 2011 to New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, Mexican Wolf Conservation Stamp Fund, PO Box 25464, Albuquerque, NM 87125.

  • Today, Congressman Martin  Heinrich (D-NM) wrote a letter to the Las Cruces Bureau of Land Management airing concerns over potential impacts of hardrock mining in America’s wildest grassland – Otero Mesa.

    Click hereto read the full letter.

  • Last week, Senators Bingaman and Udall reintroduced a Wilderness bill for Doña Ana County. 
    Take Action to support this bill today!

    OrganscKen Stinnett small 250x154S. 1024, the Organ Mountains – Doña Ana County Conservation and Protection Act was introduced on May 18, 2011 by Senator Jeff Bingaman, with Senator Tom Udall as the original co-sponsor.
    Similar legislation was introduced during the last Congressional session by Senators Bingaman and Udall, but even though the bill was passed out of committees with broad support, it never received a final vote to become law.

    Now, the bill has a new lease on life. Let’s thank our Senators for reintroducing this legislation, and encourage them to keep fighting for the protection of Doña Ana County’s wild lands.

    Visit our online action center to send a free fax thanking Senators Bingaman and Udall.

    For more information:

    Read Sen. Bingaman and Sen. Udall’s Press Release

    Read the Press Release from the Hispano Chamber of Commerce de Las Cruces and the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce

    Read the Press Release from the Back Country Horsemen of New Mexico and the Dona Ana County Associated Sportsmen

    More About the Organ Mountains – Doña Ana County Conservation and Protection Act

    – If passed, this Act would protect the most iconic landscapes in Doña Ana County and Southern New Mexico: the Organ Mountains, Potrillo Mountains, Aden Lava Flow, and Broad Canyon, among other landmarks.
    – 241,000 acres would be protected as designated Wilderness. Currently, there is no Wilderness on BLM land in the entire southern half of New Mexico!
    – An additional 100,000 acres will be protected in a National Conservation Area.
    – The Act was developed from a Citizens Proposal, and enjoys the bipartisan support of thousands of local citizens, hundreds of local businesses, the Back Country Horsemen of New Mexico, the Doña Ana County Associated Sportsmen, Southwest Consolidated Sportsmen, the Hispano Chamber of Commerce de Las Cruces, the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce, local government, former Deputy Secretary of the Interior Lynn Scarlett, and Paul Deason, member of the US Department of Justice Anti-terrorism Advisory Council.

  • Last week, Senators Bingaman and Udall reintroduced a Wilderness bill for Doña Ana County. 
    Take Action to support this bill today!

    OrganscKen Stinnett small 250x154S. 1024, the Organ Mountains – Doña Ana County Conservation and Protection Act was introduced on May 18, 2011 by Senator Jeff Bingaman, with Senator Tom Udall as the original co-sponsor.
    Similar legislation was introduced during the last Congressional session by Senators Bingaman and Udall, but even though the bill was passed out of committees with broad support, it never received a final vote to become law.

    Now, the bill has a new lease on life. Let’s thank our Senators for reintroducing this legislation, and encourage them to keep fighting for the protection of Doña Ana County’s wild lands.

    Visit our online action center to send a free fax thanking Senators Bingaman and Udall.

    For more information:

    Read Sen. Bingaman and Sen. Udall’s Press Release

    Read the Press Release from the Hispano Chamber of Commerce de Las Cruces and the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce

    Read the Press Release from the Back Country Horsemen of New Mexico and the Dona Ana County Associated Sportsmen

    More About the Organ Mountains – Doña Ana County Conservation and Protection Act

    – If passed, this Act would protect the most iconic landscapes in Doña Ana County and Southern New Mexico: the Organ Mountains, Potrillo Mountains, Aden Lava Flow, and Broad Canyon, among other landmarks.
    – 241,000 acres would be protected as designated Wilderness. Currently, there is no Wilderness on BLM land in the entire southern half of New Mexico!
    – An additional 100,000 acres will be protected in a National Conservation Area.
    – The Act was developed from a Citizens Proposal, and enjoys the bipartisan support of thousands of local citizens, hundreds of local businesses, the Back Country Horsemen of New Mexico, the Doña Ana County Associated Sportsmen, Southwest Consolidated Sportsmen, the Hispano Chamber of Commerce de Las Cruces, the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce, local government, former Deputy Secretary of the Interior Lynn Scarlett, and Paul Deason, member of the US Department of Justice Anti-terrorism Advisory Council.

  • For Immediate Release
    Date: Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    Contact: The Office of Senator Jeff Bingaman
    Phone: 1-800-443-8658

    Contact: The Office of Senator Tom Udall
    Phone: (202) 224-6621

    From the Offices of Senator Jeff Bingaman and Senator Tom Udall

    BINGAMAN & UDALL RENEW EFFORT TO PROTECT ORGAN MOUNTAINS WHILE IMPROVING BORDER SECURITY

    WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall today renewed their push to protect the scenic landscape of the Organ Mountains in Doña Ana County.

    The legislation, called the Organ Mountains – Doña Ana County Conservation and Protection Act (S. 1024), creates wilderness and conservation areas in the county that provide for continued public use while protecting the granite peaks of the Organ Mountains and the volcanic cinder cones of the Potrillo Mountains, among other public lands in the county.  A map of the proposal can be found here.

    Much of the area has been managed as a “Wilderness Study Area” since the 1980s when the Reagan administration first set it aside for protected status.  It was later recommended by the George H.W. Bush administration and then-Interior Secretary Manuel Lujan to be elevated to full wilderness status.

    The legislation would bring President Bush’s recommendations to fruition by creating 241,000 acres of wilderness and 100,000 acres of National Conservation Area (NCA).  These areas would be managed in ways that protect the landscape from development while preserving current uses – such as hunting and grazing.

    As before, the bill also contains the modifications developed with the Border Patrol to enhance the flexibility of Border Patrol and law enforcement to operate in the border area above and beyond existing law.  Because of the way the West Potrillos Wilderness Study Area boundary was originally drawn by the Reagan Administration, the Border Patrol has a buffer of only 1/3 of a mile from the international border and is currently limited in its ability to conduct routine vehicle patrols north of Highway 9.

    The bill introduced today expands this buffer to a total of 5 miles – 3 miles of non-wilderness buffer area and an additional 2-mile “Restricted Use Area.”  This area would prohibit motorized access by the general public, but it will permit the Border Patrol to conduct routine patrols and construct communication and surveillance infrastructure as it would on regular multiple-use land.  The bill proposes to un-designate over 30,000 acres of land currently designated as wilderness study area.  Here is a link to maps that show the current Wilderness Study Area as compared to the new proposal.

    In addition to the nearly five mile buffer, the new proposal also provides an east-west route for Border Patrol to travel between the Potrillo Mountains Wilderness.  And it underscores current law by expressly stating that the wilderness designation does not affect Border Patrol’s ability to conduct overflights above the wilderness areas or other border security activities in the wilderness areas, including the use of motorized vehicles while in pursuit of a suspect. The commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, who oversees Border Patrol, wrote a letter last year in strong support of the strengthened proposal.  In the letter Commissioner Alan Bersin states that the bill, as modified, “would significantly enhance the flexibility of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to operate in this border area.”

    “While illegal activity is very low near the Potrillo Mountains because of the rough terrain, I remain convinced the 1/3-mile buffer is insufficient for the Border Patrol and law enforcement to adequately operate in this border area,” Bingaman said.  “This bill not only enhances our border security flexibility in the area, it also benefits the quality of life in the region by protecting its iconic landscapes.”

    “This bill strikes the right balance between securing our border and protecting treasured landscapes like the Organ Mountains for generations to come,” Udall said. “I’m proud to once again join with Senator Bingaman in introducing this important legislation.”

    In the 111th Congress, the bill received a hearing before Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee both in Washington D.C. as well as at a field hearing in Las Cruces.  The measure was then approved unanimously last year by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, but was not considered by the full Senate in the 111th Congress.

    Introducing the bill today will begin the process anew in the 112th Congress.

  • After working successfully to safeguard Otero Mesa from oil and gas development for over a decade, there is a new and even more volatile threat to this wild desert grassland—hardrock mining.Twila Rayne Otero copy

    On August 1, Denver-based Geovic Mining Corporation started exploratory drilling on Wind Mountain, the most iconic peak in Otero Mesa.

    This type of hardrock mining operation will significantly alter the landscape and have serious impacts on wildlife habitat, soil composition and the underground aquifer in Otero Mesa.

    Please, join me in ensuring that future generations can enjoy the beauty of Otero Mesa by donating online today.

    Your important contribution will help us continue the fight to protect Otero Mesa from those who are trying to destroy it.

    Now is the time to take action to help preserve the spaces that we love and to pass on a wild future to our children.

    Act now—the first 25 donations of $50 or more will receive a free 2011 Wild Guide! Your support is critical to help us reach our goal of $20,000 to support our wilderness campaigns.

    For Wilderness,

    Stephen Capra

  • Sweeping vistas from the El Rio Grande Del Norte in Taos & Rio Arriba Counties. This beautiful region in Northern New Mexico is being considered for inclusion in the National Landscape Conservation System as a National Conservation Area.

    Learn more about the El Rio Grande Del Norte Campaign.

     
     
  • Sweeping vistas from the El Rio Grande Del Norte in Taos & Rio Arriba Counties. This beautiful region in Northern New Mexico is being considered for inclusion in the National Landscape Conservation System as a National Conservation Area.

    Learn more about the El Rio Grande Del Norte Campaign.

     
     
  • Make a donation to protect Otero Mesa and its wildlife

    Otero Mesa is now threatened by hardrock mining, which is bad news for its wild inhabitants such as the mountain lion. Help us fight to preserve Otero Mesa and its wildlife.

    Please give your year-end tax deductible donation now.

    Donate Online

    Help us protect the mountain lion’s home

    Mountain lions roam Otero Mesa and many of the other wild lands we are working to protect. Please help us preserve habitat for the mountain lion and other species in New Mexico. Give online now.

    baby mountain lion

    Executive Director Stephen Capra recalls seeing a mountain lion in Otero Mesa. Otero Mesa is now threatened by hardrock mining, but NM Wild is working to protect this desert grassland and the wildlife who call it home.

    “Sometimes the magic of a place speaks to you in unexpected ways. Such was the case on my first visit to Otero Mesa in December 2002. I was there with a friend for a four-day trip to get a sense of this landscape and whether it was worth protecting.

    It is in such a setting that land can often literally speak to you. On this trip, the grassland of Otero Mesa would reveal many aspects of itself. There was the powerful sky that brought morning from the grasps of night, the sunsets that came early and brought forward the evening chill. There were the herds of mule deer near Rough Draw, the sky-filled dance of Mexican free-tailed bats in the evening, and the prairie dogs and burrowing owls that brought such life during the daylight to this wild landscape.
    What I could not have predicted was what happened the last day as we drove across a great swath of the core grassland. Somewhere near Shiloh Draw, as I looked out into grass and creosote, appeared a mountain lion. This lion was healthy and sporting a rich winter coat. He looked directly at me and then began to run. At first I thought he might just jump in the car, but he chose to run along our slow moving vehicle. He then glanced back after passing us for what seemed like an eternity and then bolted across the grassland, with Alamo Mountain as a backdrop.
    With my heart still pounding hours later, I climbed up on a small ridge where I could get cell phone coverage. I remember clearly calling my then executive director and relating the story. I told him that we must protect this place and about how magical my days there had been. He told our members the story later that night at our annual holiday party. As I lay in my sleeping bed watching the night sky fill with stars, I dreamed of protecting a place that had revealed its beauty over four days in December.”

    Stephen Capra
    in Otero Mesa

    The mountain lions of America’s last desert grassland need your help. Your gift will help ensure we have the funds to continue fighting for places like Otero Mesa and the wildlife that depend on it. Please give your year-end tax deductible gift now.

    Otero Mesa is home to a number of wildlife, including the mountain lion. However, this desert grassland and its wild inhabitants are currently threatened by hardrock mining.

    Help us to fight for Otero Mesa and preserve habitat for all of its wildlife by giving today.

  • Show your love for Otero Mesa!

    On Valentine’s Day, many folks try to do something special for those they love. While you’re at it, why not do the same for the lands you love? All of us own 635 million acres of national parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests, and western acreage overseen by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Many of these places put up with a lot of abuse: poorly executed mining, drilling, and logging, to note a few–we need to make sure Otero Mesa isn’t one of them!

    Today, send a note to New Mexico’s BLM chief to let her know how much you love Otero Mesa.

    otero valentine 250x207Otero Mesa

    Southern New Mexico’s Otero Mesa is one of the largest remaining pieces of intact Chihuahuan Desert grasslands in the United States and is home to more than 1,000 native species, including rare grasses, bald eagles, and pronghorn. It also provides habitat vital to mule deer, black-tailed prairie dogs, mountain lions, and 200 species of migratory songbirds. There are thousands of ancient archeological sites, including petroglyphs on Alamo Mountain that date back 1500 years. The area also contains more than a half million acres of roadless, wilderness-quality lands. For more than a decade, the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance has been working with the Coalition for Otero Mesa to fend off oil and gas drilling proposals. Drilling could contaminate the Salt Basin aquifer, the largest underground water source in New Mexico.

    HOW YOU CAN HELP:

    Urge BLM State Director Linda Rundell to keep protecting Otero Mesa from drilling and other activities that would damage its wilderness, wildlife and water. Send a letter at our online action center, or reach Director Rundell at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    For more information contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • By Bill Richardson 

     
    “When Ancestral Pueblo cliff dwellings dating back to the 12th century were threatened, President Woodrow Wilson saved them by establishing Bandelier National Monument in my home state of New Mexico, 95 years ago this February. Now the designation of future monuments may be in jeopardy. Our next Bandelier, Grand Canyon, Statue of Liberty or other natural, historic and cultural treasures that shape our character and tell our story, may not be protected if current efforts to limit the Antiquities Act succeed.

    Bandelier was named a National Monument in 1916. Today, because of the level of protection provided by this designation, 300,000 people each year have the opportunity to be awed by Ancestral Pueblo cliff dwellings carved out of rock walls hundreds of feet high and a spectacular landscape that’s home to mountain lions, elk and black bear.

    That’s the same level of permanent protection I have asked President Obama to provide another treasure in New Mexico — Otero Mesa. Otero Mesa is the largest and wildest expanse of Chihuahuan Desert grassland left in America, where ancient archeological sites, 1,500-year-old petroglyphs, pronghorn antelopes and one of New Mexico’s largest remaining untapped fresh water resources can be found. But now some elected officials want to leave unique and irreplaceable sites like Otero Mesa vulnerable to looting and vandalism, and oil and gas development by limiting the President’s authority to create Monuments on land already owned and used by the American people….

    As a national community, we want to protect places like Bandelier, the Grand Canyon and Otero Mesa. We believe our nation’s leaders share those values, and we call on them to act to preserve the Antiquities Act so our children and our grandchildren can experience treasures like these too. And we also call on President Obama, who, with his America’s Great Outdoors Initiative as evidence, clearly cares about the wild legacy we leave our children, to use all of the tools in his power – including the Antiquities Act – to permanently protect lands like Otero Mesa that connect us to our past and define us as a people.”

    Read the full article: Guest Commentary: The Antiquities Act – The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_17638168#ixzz1GxjwBQcP

  • Report Highlights Economic Impact of National Monuments

    Premium content from New Mexico Business Weekly by Megan Kamerick, NMBW Senior Reporter

    Date: Friday, October 21, 2011, 4:00am MDT

    There is little dispute over the beauty of the national monuments and national parks sprinkled throughout New Mexico.

    But these sites are also important economic drivers for local communities. That’s the argument the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce is promoting via a new repor

    Using 2008 data collected by the National Park Service, the report points out that the nine New Mexico monuments created under the Antiquities Act and managed by the National Park Service had 1.3 million visitors who spent more than $54.2 million in nearby communities, supporting 1,061 jobs.

    More recent data indicates visitation increased to 1.37 million in 2009, and visitors spent about $54.8 million. The numbers do not include El Malpais, which was not created by the Antiquities Act, or Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rock on Cochiti Pueblo.

    The Green Chamber is making a push now in response to a battle over the Antiquities Act, the federal law that allows presidents to designate national monuments. There are at least six bills in the U.S. House of Representatives that would alter the Act, according to testimony given on Sept. 13 by the U.S. Department of the Interior before the House Committee on Natural Resources.

    Three would bar the use of the Act by the president to extend or establish new national monuments in Montana, Idaho and Utah. H.R. 817 would require congressional approval for national monuments. H.R. 302 would require the approval of a state legislature and governor before the president could designate a national monument.

    H.R. 758 would require national monument designations be approved by Congress within two years of a presidential proclamation.

    “The Antiquities Act is creating jobs and economic value,” said Allan Oliver, CEO of the Green Chamber, a statewide organization with about 1,200 members. “It it’s not broken, it’s working and it doesn’t need fixing.”

    Keeping the authority with the president is important, Oliver added.

    “If you look at Congress, it’s very difficult for them to find agreement on things,” he said

    Most of the state’s congressional delegation is in agreement. U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall, both Democrats, said they oppose efforts to repeal or change the Act. U.S. Rep. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., also opposes the efforts and gives them scant chance of success.

    “We saw this kind of legislation after the 1994 so-called Republican revolution and it didn’t go anywhere in the Senate because it was incredibly unpopular with the American people,” he said.

    U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M. said he recognizes the positive economic impacts of natural monuments. But added he is concerned about future federal efforts.

    “There is a major push for the federal government to take up lands, like at Otero Mesa, where there are proposals for responsible drilling for natural resources,” he said in a prepared statement. “This would clearly destroy good paying jobs that can’t be replaced by a monument declaration.”

    Signed into law by Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, the Antiquities Act has been used by presidents to create monuments across the country, some of which became national parks. Those include the Grand Canyon National Park, the Statue of Liberty National Monument, and Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico

    Most recently, President George W. Bush used the Act to establish six national monuments, according to Interior’s testimony in September.

    In New Mexico, 10 presidents – six Republicans and four Democrats – have used the Antiquities Act to designate 10 national monuments on public lands since 1906. They include Bandelier National Monument. It was impacted by the Las Conchas fire, but a new shuttle is taking a steady stream of visitors to the site, said Kevin Holsapple, executive director of the Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corp.

    While Los Alamos National Laboratory is the city’s main economic engine, Holsapple said, the tourism activity created by the nearby presence of Bandelier is an important segment as well

    “We just treasure Bandelier,” he said.

    Steve Jaszai, corporate manager of Heart of the Desert Pistachios & Wine in Alamogordo, said most of his customers visit the nearby White Sands National Monument. Kevin Schneider, superintendent of White Sands, said most visitors come from outside the immediate area and they spent $16 million in local communities in 2009.

    Sharon Schultz, executive director of the Tourism Association of New Mexico, said the economic impact of national parks and monuments, especially in rural areas of the state, cannot be overstated.

    U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, who introduced H.R. 2147, the Utah Lands Sovereignty Act, and other members of Congress who introduced similar legislation, are pushing for more local input into the creation of monuments.

    In its congressional testimony in September, the Department of the Interior said the Obama administration supports an open and public process that considers input from local, state and national stakeholders before any sites are considered for designation as monuments.

    One of the most controversial monument designations was the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah by President Bill Clinton in 1996. Bishop told the Vernal Express newspaper that the decline in rural economies, particularly in Kane County, where the Escalante National Monument is located, is evidence of the Antiquity Act’s negative impact.

    However, a recent study by Headwaters Economics found that since 1996, the two counties near the monument have seen jobs grow by 38 percent, and per capita income rise by 30 percent.

    That report, and others on other monuments, including El Malpais in New Mexico, are available online. The New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce report is available online.

  • Make a donation to help us continue to fight for the lobo
    Mexican gray wolf habitat protection is one of NM Wild’s core campaigns. The Mexican Wolf Conservation Stamp is one way that we are working to protect the southwest lobo. Please give your year-end tax deductible donation today to help us continue our fight for the Mexican gray wolf.

    Help us make 2012 the year of the wolf
    Help NM Wild continue to support efforts to save Mexican gray wolves and the habitat they depend on. Give online now.

    wolf9

    In the past few months, we have been very excited to hear about the release of a new pack of wolves in the northern mountains of Sonora, Mexico, just south of the United States border. This release is both important for wolves and for international efforts to support wolves in the wild.

    For many years, the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance has enjoyed a strong working relationship with the Mexican conservation group Naturalia. As a result, we have decided to give a $2,500 grant from monies raised from the sale of our wolf stamp to Naturalia. The monies will be used to monitor the release of these wolves with a team of biologists traveling from the city of Agua Prieta, Sonora. They will also be monitoring the wolves from the air.

    We at the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance are proud to support efforts to keep wolves in the wild because they are essential to maintaining a healthy environment. Your support of the wolf stamp is making a real difference! We look forward to rolling out our 2012 wolf stamp soon.

    Happy holidays from all of us at the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance and let’s make 2012 the year of the wolf!


    Stephen Capra

    Your gift will help ensure we have the funds to continue fighting for the lobo. Please give your year-end tax deductible gift now.

    With your help, we have reached 57 percent of our goal to raise $20,000 by January 1. Thank you to everyone who has helped us come this far. We only have two days left to reach our goal. Please give online now to help us work to protect Mexican gray wolf habitat.

    Donate Online

  • Make a donation to help us continue to fight for the lobo
    Mexican gray wolf habitat protection is one of NM Wild’s core campaigns. The Mexican Wolf Conservation Stamp is one way that we are working to protect the southwest lobo. Please give your year-end tax deductible donation today to help us continue our fight for the Mexican gray wolf.

    Help us make 2012 the year of the wolf
    Help NM Wild continue to support efforts to save Mexican gray wolves and the habitat they depend on. Give online now.

    wolf9

    In the past few months, we have been very excited to hear about the release of a new pack of wolves in the northern mountains of Sonora, Mexico, just south of the United States border. This release is both important for wolves and for international efforts to support wolves in the wild.

    For many years, the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance has enjoyed a strong working relationship with the Mexican conservation group Naturalia. As a result, we have decided to give a $2,500 grant from monies raised from the sale of our wolf stamp to Naturalia. The monies will be used to monitor the release of these wolves with a team of biologists traveling from the city of Agua Prieta, Sonora. They will also be monitoring the wolves from the air.

    We at the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance are proud to support efforts to keep wolves in the wild because they are essential to maintaining a healthy environment. Your support of the wolf stamp is making a real difference! We look forward to rolling out our 2012 wolf stamp soon.

    Happy holidays from all of us at the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance and let’s make 2012 the year of the wolf!


    Stephen Capra

    Your gift will help ensure we have the funds to continue fighting for the lobo. Please give your year-end tax deductible gift now.

    With your help, we have reached 57 percent of our goal to raise $20,000 by January 1. Thank you to everyone who has helped us come this far. We only have two days left to reach our goal. Please give online now to help us work to protect Mexican gray wolf habitat.

    Donate Online

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