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2011

  • Paradise Could Be Easily Lost

    Albuquerque Journal Monday, March 21, 2011

    By Bennett A. Brown And John Cornell
    Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership; New Mexico Wildlife Federation

    “Otero Mesa is a majestic desert grassland in a remote area of southern New Mexico. Bordered on the north by the Sacramento Mountains and on the east by the Guadalupe Mountains, this 2,400-square-mile landscape encompasses roughly 1.2 million acres of public land administered by the Bureau of Land Management.

    Roughly half the area is grassland, including the largest remaining Chihuahuan Desert grassland assemblage in public ownership. It also supports the very best remaining examples of black grama grasslands that blanketed much of southern New Mexico in pre-settlement times.

    However, the threat of change looms over the serenity of Otero Mesa, change that threatens to destroy the integrity of this dramatic landscape.

    As you might imagine, this unique place also is home to a diverse community of wildlife. The only remaining native population of pronghorn antelope on public lands in New Mexico thrives on Otero Mesa. Desert mule deer are widespread and abundant. Both are supported by a complex ecosystem of native plants that is host to more than 1,000 other species of wildlife, including the rare aplomado falcon.

    Otero Mesa is a rare jewel for hunters, hikers, birders and photographers. Few places in New Mexico offer the sportsman the array of opportunities for pursuing big game on public land…

    …More than 50 mining claims have been staked on Otero Mesa since last October by one mining company alone. This company is considering mining for cobalt, which has a long history of arsenic contamination and other problems. Can you imagine what open pit mines and strip mines would do this pristine landscape?

    No place like Otero Mesa remains either in New Mexico or anywhere else in the West. We ask all New Mexicans to join us in seeking permanent protection for the mesa and its plants, animals and archeological treasures.”

    Read the full article: ABQJOURNAL OPINION/GUEST_COLUMNS: Paradise Could Be Easily Lost

  • For Immediate Release
    Date: February 22, 2011

    Contact: Nathan Newcomer, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance
    Phone: 505-250-4225

    Contact: John Cornell, New Mexico Wildlife Federation
    Phone: 575-740-1759

    New Mexico Wilderness Alliance* The Wilderness Society*
    Southwest Environmental Center* New Mexico Wildlife Federation*
    National Wildlife Federation* Sierra Club* The Audubon Society*
    Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership* Restoring Eden*
    Environment New Mexico* Apache Advocates for Otero Mesa*

    Otero Mesa Targeted by Mining Industry

    Hardrock mining considered the “highest and best use” for public lands regardless of impacts on watersheds, wildlife, landscapes or local communities

    For nearly a decade, the Coalition for Otero Mesa has worked to safeguard the fragile grasslands, abundant wildlife, and freshwater resources of Otero Mesa from full-scale
    oil and gas drilling. Now, a new and more volatile threat has emerged for America’s
    largest and wildest grassland – hardrock mining.

    During the months of October and November 2010, over 50 new mining claims were
    staked in the heart of the Otero Mesa region, by Geovic Mining Corp, based in Denver,
    Colorado, and also majority owner of the largest cobalt-producing operation in the
    world, based in Cameroon, Africa. The company is seeking to mine for cobalt nickel
    magnesium, and has staked claim to a surface area equal to 2,178 football fields.
    This type of hardrock mining operation could significantly alter the landscape and have
    serious impacts on wildlife habitat, soil composition and underground aquifers in Otero
    Mesa.

    “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. “This new
    threat of hardrock mining in Otero Mesa, underscores the urgency of providing
    permanent protection for this wild and beautiful grassland.”

    Hardrock mining on public lands is governed today by the General Mining Act of 1872
    – a law that has changed little since it was first signed by President Ulysses S. Grant to
    encourage development of the West. Under this Civil War era statute, hardrock mining
    is considered the “highest and best use” for public lands, regardless of the impact on

    watersheds, wildlife, landscapes or local communities.

    “Hardrock mining is a significant cause of water contamination across the West and
    New Mexico,” said State Senator Steve Fischmann. “In 1979, 94 million gallons of
    radioactive, acidic mine tailings spilled into the Rio Puerco. Thirty years later, the
    impacts of that spill still linger. At the very least we must protect habitat and minimize
    pollution risks to the Salt Basin Aquifer from hardrock mining activities.”

    Otero Mesa is an ecologically rich area home to 1,000 native wildlife species, including
    mule deer, mountain lion, black-tailed prairie dogs, golden and bald eagles, over 200
    species of migratory songbirds, and boasts the state’s healthiest and only genetically
    pure herd of pronghorn antelope. Otero Mesa sits above the Salt Basin Aquifer, which
    is suspected to be the largest, untapped, fresh water aquifer left in the state of New
    Mexico. The area also has a long history of cultural use and significance, which
    includes the estimated 20,000 petroglyphs on Alamo Mountain, historic ruins of the
    Butterfield Overland Stagecoach, and numerous archeological sites.

    Speaking on behalf of the Apache Advocates for Otero Mesa, Ted Rodriguez said, “To
    us Apaches, Otero Mesa is sacred. It holds a very special place in our history and must
    be treated as a Holy site, not a mining site. It deserves no less than national monument
    status.” Mr. Rodriguez is also the Headman of the Mescalero Apache Traditional Elders
    Council.

    Protection for Otero Mesa enjoys broad support locally and nationally. Former New
    Mexico Governor Bill Richardson previously proposed a more than 600,000-acre
    National Conservation Area and has called on the BLM to conduct a new inventory of
    the area’s wilderness potential. Resolutions of support have come from the cities of Las
    Cruces and El Paso, Dona Ana County, and the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Tribe. Permanent
    protection has also been endorsed by former Lt. Governor Diane Denish, former State
    Secretary of Energy, Minerals & Natural Resources Joanna Prukop, and many state
    representatives, state senators, county commissioners, city councilors, archaeological
    societies, religious leaders, and local residents. Furthermore, Governor Bill Richardson
    asked the Obama administration to designate the area a national monument before
    leaving office.

    “Sportsmen and their families have a long legacy of using Otero Mesa and every acre
    we lose to development, of any kind, robs us of passing on that legacy,” said John
    Cornell of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. “The long term values of its cultural,
    recreational, hunting, and ranching and water resources far outweigh any short term
    benefits of mining.”

    For more information on the values of Otero Mesa and efforts to ensure its protection
    for future generations, visit www.oteromesa.org

    ###

  • Greater Potrillo Mountains Complex – Summary from NM Wild Citizens’ Wilderness Inventory

    Area Description

    potrillos 250x125The Greater Potrillo Mountains Complex is located approximately 30 miles southwest of Las Cruces adjacent to the border with Mexico.  The West Potrillo Mountains are the focal point of this area, which is one of the largest relatively undisturbed stretches of Chihuahuan Desert landscape in New Mexico.  The area also includes the Aden Lava Flow, Mount Riley, Cox Peak, Eagle Nest, Indian Basin, and the East Potrillo Mountains.  This landscape is a broad volcanic field encompassing hundreds of cinder cones, large craters, and the shield volcano of Aden Crater that produced extensive lava flows over 10,000 years ago.  Mount Riley is the highest point in the region, rising abruptly over 1,700 feet above the surrounding desert plain to an elevation of nearly 6,000 feet.  Ephemeral lakes are found in Indian Basin.  In addition, the area is made up of isolated intrusive peaks like Eagle Nest, steep sedimentary mountains like the East Potrillo Mountains, sand dunes, and expansive, relatively level plains.

    Ecological Values

    Chihuahuan Desert grassland and yucca, in association with a mosaic of other desert shrubs such as creosote, acacia, and mesquite, make up the majority of the plant cover in the area.  Isolated clumps of netleaf hackberry and other desert trees are found in the lava flow where depressions or deeper pockets of soil hold extra water after rainfall.  Occasional juniper trees are also found on mountain slopes and in larger drainages.  The limestone substrate of the East Potrillo Mountains provides habitat for a wide diversity of cacti, and sandy areas likely contain populations of the State-endangered sand prickley pear, Opuntia arenaria, a BLM special status species.  The late summer rains bring extensive stands of wildflowers in this area including white and yellow desert zinnias, desert marigolds, blackfoot daisies, globe mallow, pepperweed, desert sunflowers, Chihuahuan flax, and summer poppy.  In one of the large basins in the center of the West Potrillo Mountains, there is a unique ‘cholla savannah’ vegetation type with large 8 to 10 foot tall cholla trees evenly spaced amongst the grasses.  Unusually large specimens of barrel cactus are also found in this area.

    Protection of large natural areas is particularly important for long-term preservation of biological diversity.  Each unit is an important component in the larger complex of wildlands in the greater Potrillo Mountains area.  This area’s proximity to northern Mexico adds to its ecological significance.  Like the Peloncillo and Big Hatchet Mountains to the west, the Greater Potrillo Mountains Complex forms a biotic link between species in northern Mexico and those in the southwestern United States.

    The area’s naturalness and large size also contributes to its significance for wildlife.  Raptors are common, especially during the winter.  Golden eagles, great-horned owls, and Swainson’s hawks nest here, and peregrine falcons have also been reported.  Extensive grasslands in the area provide important habitat for grassland birds that have declined in recent years.  This includes potential habitat for Aplomado falcons.  Other species that forage and live in the area include pronghorn, mule deer, quail, jackrabbits, and occasional migrating ducks on ephemeral ponds.  A high diversity of bats are found in the complex, and melanistic forms of mammals and reptiles occur on the lava flows.  The Great Plains narrow-mouth toad has been reported immediately to the south of the West Potrillos and can be expected to occur here.  A rare mollusk is also found in the area.

    Scenic and Recreational Qualities

    Although this complex is located near a bi-national metro-plex of more than 2.5 million residents, the Greater Potrillo Mountains area appears very natural, maintaining its wild beauty.  Due to the rugged terrain and lack of water, many areas are inaccessible to cattle and largely ungrazed, adding to the scenic quality.  Lava flows, craters, and cinder cones evoke a primeval, “moonscape” image for visitors.  The shapes and forms of the lava rock are interesting, especially when juxtaposed to the varied forms of the desert vegetation found here.  The Aden Lava Flow contains pressure ridges, lava tubes, and crevices up to 5 feet wide and 20-30 feet deep.  In contrast, rounded, grass-covered hills in the complex add a hint of softness to the rugged landscape.  These features provide excellent opportunities for photography and geological sightseeing.

    Although less than an hour’s drive from either Las Cruces or El Paso, most of the area receives little visitor use.  This is an excellent area to explore if one desires to avoid contact with others.  The area does not have any maintained trails, making cross-country travel for horseback riders, hikers, backpackers a very primitive experience.  Isolated mountains, like Mount Riley and Cox Peak’s, rise abruptly from the desert floor and make excellent day hikes.  These seldom traveled peaks remind the visitor of the true remoteness and isolation of the area.  As one gains elevation, range after range appears on the horizon, jutting up out of vast valleys in the distance.  This gives not only a sense of immense space, but also a visual connection between the region’s of southwest New Mexico and northern Mexico, which lies only a few short miles to the south.  Additional recreational opportunities include botanical study in the East Potrillo Mountains and excellent quail hunting throughout the area.

    As nearby urban populations rapidly expand, nearby wild areas assume an even greater importance.  The Greater Potrillo Mountains Complex provides these urban dwellers with primitive recreational opportunities that, in many places in the southwest, no longer exist due to urban sprawl into once wild areas.  The primeval nature of the complex provides visitors with a wilderness experience and primitive recreational opportunities of the highest order.

    Special Management Areas

    Three Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) are located in this complex:  Aden Lava Flow, Mount Riley, and West Potrillo Mountains.  The West Potrillo Mountains is the largest BLM WSA in New Mexico.  The Aden Lava Flow Research Natural Area (RNA) is also located here.  The RNA was designated in 1978 to preserve the unique geological and biological phenomena associated with the Aden Lava Flow and to provide research and educational opportunities.  A portion of the area also falls within the West Potrillos Habitat Management Plan Area managed to improve habitat for deer and upland game.

    Cultural Values

    Evidence of pre-Columbian Indian habitation exists in caves in the East Potrillo Mountains.  A Classic Mimbres Pueblo located in the region has the highest concentration of bird bones of any known Mimbres site.  Several undisturbed El Paso Phase structures have also been found in the West Potrillo Mountains.

    Access Information

    The south part of the Greater Potrillo Mountains complex is easily reached by Highway 9 that goes from Santa Teresa to Columbus along the border with Mexico.  From I-10 exit #8 in Texas, head west toward the border crossing on Highway 136.  Just north of the border, about 9½ miles southwest of the interstate exit, turn west on Highway 9.  In 16½ miles, CR A008 comes in on the north.  This road forms the eastern boundary of the East Potrillo Mountains unit.

     

  • Greater Potrillo Mountains Complex – Summary from NM Wild Citizens’ Wilderness Inventory

    Area Description

    potrillos 250x125The Greater Potrillo Mountains Complex is located approximately 30 miles southwest of Las Cruces adjacent to the border with Mexico.  The West Potrillo Mountains are the focal point of this area, which is one of the largest relatively undisturbed stretches of Chihuahuan Desert landscape in New Mexico.  The area also includes the Aden Lava Flow, Mount Riley, Cox Peak, Eagle Nest, Indian Basin, and the East Potrillo Mountains.  This landscape is a broad volcanic field encompassing hundreds of cinder cones, large craters, and the shield volcano of Aden Crater that produced extensive lava flows over 10,000 years ago.  Mount Riley is the highest point in the region, rising abruptly over 1,700 feet above the surrounding desert plain to an elevation of nearly 6,000 feet.  Ephemeral lakes are found in Indian Basin.  In addition, the area is made up of isolated intrusive peaks like Eagle Nest, steep sedimentary mountains like the East Potrillo Mountains, sand dunes, and expansive, relatively level plains.

    Ecological Values

    Chihuahuan Desert grassland and yucca, in association with a mosaic of other desert shrubs such as creosote, acacia, and mesquite, make up the majority of the plant cover in the area.  Isolated clumps of netleaf hackberry and other desert trees are found in the lava flow where depressions or deeper pockets of soil hold extra water after rainfall.  Occasional juniper trees are also found on mountain slopes and in larger drainages.  The limestone substrate of the East Potrillo Mountains provides habitat for a wide diversity of cacti, and sandy areas likely contain populations of the State-endangered sand prickley pear, Opuntia arenaria, a BLM special status species.  The late summer rains bring extensive stands of wildflowers in this area including white and yellow desert zinnias, desert marigolds, blackfoot daisies, globe mallow, pepperweed, desert sunflowers, Chihuahuan flax, and summer poppy.  In one of the large basins in the center of the West Potrillo Mountains, there is a unique ‘cholla savannah’ vegetation type with large 8 to 10 foot tall cholla trees evenly spaced amongst the grasses.  Unusually large specimens of barrel cactus are also found in this area.

    Protection of large natural areas is particularly important for long-term preservation of biological diversity.  Each unit is an important component in the larger complex of wildlands in the greater Potrillo Mountains area.  This area’s proximity to northern Mexico adds to its ecological significance.  Like the Peloncillo and Big Hatchet Mountains to the west, the Greater Potrillo Mountains Complex forms a biotic link between species in northern Mexico and those in the southwestern United States.

    The area’s naturalness and large size also contributes to its significance for wildlife.  Raptors are common, especially during the winter.  Golden eagles, great-horned owls, and Swainson’s hawks nest here, and peregrine falcons have also been reported.  Extensive grasslands in the area provide important habitat for grassland birds that have declined in recent years.  This includes potential habitat for Aplomado falcons.  Other species that forage and live in the area include pronghorn, mule deer, quail, jackrabbits, and occasional migrating ducks on ephemeral ponds.  A high diversity of bats are found in the complex, and melanistic forms of mammals and reptiles occur on the lava flows.  The Great Plains narrow-mouth toad has been reported immediately to the south of the West Potrillos and can be expected to occur here.  A rare mollusk is also found in the area.

    Scenic and Recreational Qualities

    Although this complex is located near a bi-national metro-plex of more than 2.5 million residents, the Greater Potrillo Mountains area appears very natural, maintaining its wild beauty.  Due to the rugged terrain and lack of water, many areas are inaccessible to cattle and largely ungrazed, adding to the scenic quality.  Lava flows, craters, and cinder cones evoke a primeval, “moonscape” image for visitors.  The shapes and forms of the lava rock are interesting, especially when juxtaposed to the varied forms of the desert vegetation found here.  The Aden Lava Flow contains pressure ridges, lava tubes, and crevices up to 5 feet wide and 20-30 feet deep.  In contrast, rounded, grass-covered hills in the complex add a hint of softness to the rugged landscape.  These features provide excellent opportunities for photography and geological sightseeing.

    Although less than an hour’s drive from either Las Cruces or El Paso, most of the area receives little visitor use.  This is an excellent area to explore if one desires to avoid contact with others.  The area does not have any maintained trails, making cross-country travel for horseback riders, hikers, backpackers a very primitive experience.  Isolated mountains, like Mount Riley and Cox Peak’s, rise abruptly from the desert floor and make excellent day hikes.  These seldom traveled peaks remind the visitor of the true remoteness and isolation of the area.  As one gains elevation, range after range appears on the horizon, jutting up out of vast valleys in the distance.  This gives not only a sense of immense space, but also a visual connection between the region’s of southwest New Mexico and northern Mexico, which lies only a few short miles to the south.  Additional recreational opportunities include botanical study in the East Potrillo Mountains and excellent quail hunting throughout the area.

    As nearby urban populations rapidly expand, nearby wild areas assume an even greater importance.  The Greater Potrillo Mountains Complex provides these urban dwellers with primitive recreational opportunities that, in many places in the southwest, no longer exist due to urban sprawl into once wild areas.  The primeval nature of the complex provides visitors with a wilderness experience and primitive recreational opportunities of the highest order.

    Special Management Areas

    Three Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) are located in this complex:  Aden Lava Flow, Mount Riley, and West Potrillo Mountains.  The West Potrillo Mountains is the largest BLM WSA in New Mexico.  The Aden Lava Flow Research Natural Area (RNA) is also located here.  The RNA was designated in 1978 to preserve the unique geological and biological phenomena associated with the Aden Lava Flow and to provide research and educational opportunities.  A portion of the area also falls within the West Potrillos Habitat Management Plan Area managed to improve habitat for deer and upland game.

    Cultural Values

    Evidence of pre-Columbian Indian habitation exists in caves in the East Potrillo Mountains.  A Classic Mimbres Pueblo located in the region has the highest concentration of bird bones of any known Mimbres site.  Several undisturbed El Paso Phase structures have also been found in the West Potrillo Mountains.

    Access Information

    The south part of the Greater Potrillo Mountains complex is easily reached by Highway 9 that goes from Santa Teresa to Columbus along the border with Mexico.  From I-10 exit #8 in Texas, head west toward the border crossing on Highway 136.  Just north of the border, about 9½ miles southwest of the interstate exit, turn west on Highway 9.  In 16½ miles, CR A008 comes in on the north.  This road forms the eastern boundary of the East Potrillo Mountains unit.

     

  • For Immediate Release
    Date: Thursday, May 19, 2011

    Contact: Gabe Vasquez, Executive Director, Hispano Chamber of Commerce de Las Cruces
    Phone: 575-532-9255
    Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Contact: Elisa Cundiff, Executive Director Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce
    Phone: 575-649-7694
    Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Hispano, Green Chambers of Commerce Applaud Reintroduction of Wilderness Protection Bill

    Las Cruces, N.M. –The Las Cruces Hispano and Green Chambers of Commerce joined today to applaud the reintroduction of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Wilderness Act – now known as the Organ Mountains-Doña Ana County Conservation and Protection Act – into Congress.

    The Organ Mountains-Doña Ana County Conservation and Protection Act, introduced by U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, seeks to create wilderness and conservation areas in Doña Ana County that provide for continued public use while protecting the granite peaks and foothills of the Organ Mountains, as well as the volcanic cinder cones of the Potrillo Mountains, among other public lands in the county.

    “This legislation will be a tremendous asset in our ability to recruit good companies and jobs to Doña Ana County,” said John Munoz, President of the Hispano Chamber of Commerce de Las Cruces. “Entrepreneurs want to live in an area with a high quality of life for them and their families. Protecting Doña Ana County’s incredible wilderness areas will play an important role in securing our quality of life and our economic future.”

    When the bill was introduced during the last session of Congress, the bill was given a unanimous “voice vote” approval, clearing the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Both Bingaman and U.S. Sen. Tom Udall were sponsors of the bill.

    “Numerous studies have shown that communities with protected lands nearby have higher than average personal income growth and job creation. The reason is simple – people are attracted to the high quality of life associated with beautiful views, undisturbed wild lands, recreation, cultural and historical landmarks, clean air and water, and diverse wildlife. If passed by Congress, this legislation will be a boost to businesses in Doña Ana County, creating more jobs in the recreation and tourism industries and continuing to attract people who want to live and work here. We can’t thank Senators Bingaman and Udall enough for their efforts.” said Renee Frank, President of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce.

    Much of the wilderness area targeted for protection by the new legislation has been managed as a “Wilderness Study Area,” a Bureau of Land Management designation, since the 1980s when the Reagan Administration set it aside for protected status. If passed, the bill would create about 241,400 acres of wilderness and 99,150 acres of National Conservation Area (NCA). These areas would then be managed in ways that protect the landscape and environment from development while preserving existing uses – such as hunting, hiking and grazing.

    About the Hispano Chamber of Commerce de Las Cruces: The Hispano Chamber of Commerce de Las Cruces, through its diverse membership, advocates for business growth in the community and promotes Las Cruces and Hispanic business owners through economic development, education, community service, and cultural awareness. The Hispano Chamber of Commerce de Las Cruces was initiated in 1992 as the Hispano Chamber of Doña Ana County, and in 1994 incorporated as The Hispano Chamber of Commerce de Las Cruces. The original founders consisted of a group of businesspersons interested in developing a support organization for small, Hispanic businesses.

    About the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce: The Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce, a chapter of the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce, is a network of businesses dedicated to building a healthy, vibrant, and diverse local economy in Las Cruces and the surrounding areas. The mission of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce is to foster the success of the local economy and to promote businesses committed to environmental and social responsibility.

     

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

    Contact: Jim Bates, Doña Ana County Associated Sportsmen Vice President
    Phone: 575-644-7751
    Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Contact: Don Patterson, Back Country Horsemen of America, Lower Rio Grande Chapter
    Phone: 575-649-5584
    Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Local Sportsmen and Back Country Horsemen Organizations Call for Protection of Wilderness

    For Immediate Release: May 18, 2011

    backcountry horsemn NM logo

    With the introduction of the Organ Mountains/ Doña Ana County Conservation and Protection Act today in Congress, local sporting and horse riding organizations are calling for the final protection of Doña Ana County’s wild lands.

    “We are thrilled to see Senators Bingaman and Udall renew our community’s efforts to permanently protect our natural treasures, like the Organ Mountains and Broad Canyon.  Efforts to protect these places have been going on for over 30 years.  Its time we get on with it, and pass this bill now for the future of Doña Ana County,” stated Don Patterson, Vice-President of the Lower Rio Grande Chapter of the Back Country Horsemen of America.

    DAC sportsmen logo 222x250“Sportsmen applaud the tremendous leadership of Senators Bingaman and Udall.  With the rapid loss of open space and high quality habitat, it’s so important that we secure the natural treasures that are left. We need to do this for our heritage, our families, our wildlife, and for our future.  This legislation is very well thought out, and we are proud to support it,” stated Jim Bates, Vice President of the Doña Ana County Associated Sportsmen.

    CONTACT :

    Jim Bates, Doña Ana County Associated Sportsmen Vice President: (575) 644-7751 – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Don Patterson, Back Country Horsemen of America, Lower Rio Grande Chapter: (575) 649-5584 – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • For Immediate Release
    Date: May 5, 2011

    Contact: Nathan Newcomer, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance
    Phone: 505-2504225
    Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Contact: John Cornell, New Mexico Wildlife Federation
    Phone: 575-740-1759

     

    New Mexico Wilderness Alliance* The Wilderness Society*
    Southwest Environmental Center* New Mexico Wildlife Federation*

    National Wildlife Federation* Sierra Club* The Audubon Society*
    Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership* Restoring Eden*
    Environment New Mexico* Apache Advocates for Otero Mesa*

    Mining Claims in Otero Mesa Nearly Triple
    Geovic Mining Corp goes from staking 68 mining claims to 183 in the heart of America’s wildest grassland


    For nearly a decade, the Coalition for Otero Mesa has worked to safeguard the fragile grasslands, abundant wildlife, and freshwater resources of this rare landscape from full-scale oil and gas drilling. Now, the volatile threat of hardrock mining in the region has grown exponentially.

    In January of this year, the Coalition discovered 68 mining claims had been staked in the heart of Otero Mesa, but now that number has nearly tripled to 183 claims. Denver-based Geovic Mining Corp, also majority owner of the largest cobalt-producing operation in the world (based in Cameroon, Africa), is the lead company seeking to mine for zirconium and other rare earth minerals. This type of mining operation could destroy Otero Mesa’s rare and fragile ecosystem, seriously damaging wildlife habitat, soil composition and underground aquifers in the region.

    “Otero Mesa is an extraordinarily rare landscape, and if this project moves forward, we could ultimately see the poisoning of our groundwater and the complete removal of the iconic mountains in this beautiful grassland,” said Nathan Newcomer, Associate Director of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. “Hardrock mining has absolutely no place in the heart of Otero Mesa.”

    On April 21st, Geovic Mining Corp filed for a “Minimal Impact Exploration Permit Application” with the State Mining and Minerals Division. However, obtaining a state mining permit does not necessarily satisfy the obligation to obtain other federal, state and local permits. The company is proposing to drill 10 test wells, with the majority of them on the slopes of the iconic Wind Mountain. All of the pending mining operations are either within proposed wilderness areas or proposed Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC).1

    “To us Apache, Otero Mesa is our cathedral,” said Ted Rodriguez, speaking on behalf of the Apache Advocates for Otero Mesa. “This hardrock mining plan for so-called “rare earth” minerals has the potential to significantly alter the landscape, but what is more rare than this earth that we N’de hold so sacred?” Mr. Rodriguez is also the Headman of the Mescalero Apache Traditional Elders Council and serves on various tribal committees.

    Otero Mesa is an ecologically rich area home to 1,000 native wildlife species, including mule deer, mountain lion, black-tailed prairie dogs, golden and bald eagles, over 200 species of migratory songbirds, and boasts the state’s healthiest and only genetically pure herd of pronghorn antelope. Otero Mesa sits above the Salt Basin Aquifer, which is suspected to be the largest, untapped, fresh water aquifer left in the state of New Mexico. The area also has a long history of cultural use and significance, which includes the estimated 20,000 petroglyphs on Alamo Mountain, historic ruins of the Butterfield Overland Stagecoach, and numerous archeological sites.

    “Otero Mesa has been a special place for Southern New Mexico Sportsmen for many generations,” said John Cornell of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. “Hard rock mining, in any form, would have a serious negative impact on wildlife, habitat and the salt basin aquifer.”

    Protection for Otero Mesa enjoys broad support locally and nationally. Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson previously proposed a more than 600,000-acre National Conservation Area and has called on the BLM to conduct a new inventory of the area’s wilderness potential. Resolutions of support have come from the cities of Las Cruces and El Paso, Dona Ana County, and the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Tribe. Permanent protection has also been endorsed by former Lt. Governor Diane Denish, former State Secretary of Energy, Minerals & Natural Resources Joanna Prukop, and many state representatives, state senators, county commissioners, city councilors, archaeological societies, religious leaders, and local residents. Furthermore, Governor Bill Richardson asked the Obama administration to designate the area a national monument before leaving office.

    For more information on the values of Otero Mesa and efforts to ensure its protection for future generations, visit www.oteromesa.org

    ###

    [1] Citizens participating in the BLM’s preparation of a resource management plan governing millions of acres in Southern New Mexico found portions of Otero Mesa to meet the criteria for designation as wilderness under the Wilderness Act of 1964, and asked the BLM to protect these values. In addition, citizens have proposed protection of the grassland ecosystem through designation of an Area of Critical Environmental Concern, which the agency uses to protect lands with special scientific, natural, cultural and scenic resources. Otero Mesa has been highlighted from acreage encompassing three counties for its incomparable values because it not only merits special protection, but also needs to be safeguarded.

    Nathan Newcomer
    Associate Director
    New Mexico Wilderness Alliance
    142 Truman St. Suite B1
    Albuquerque, NM 87108
    505-843-8696, ext. 106
    505-843-8697 fax
    www.nmwild.org

  • For Immediate Release
    Date: February 10, 2011
    Contact: Nathan Newcomer
    Phone: 505-250-4225
    Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    NMWA letterhead email

    New Forest Service Planning Rule Weakens Current Standards

    Administration doles out the bare minimum, instead of the bear essentials

    Today, the USDA Forest Service issued its long-awaited proposed Forest Planning Rule, which seeks to establish a new national framework to develop land management plans. While offering some important guidance to the management of America’s national forests, the proposed planning rule fails to provide critical concrete protections for water quality and wildlife.

    “The Obama administration appears to be looking to do the bare minimum for wilderness, water and wildlife,” said Nathan Newcomer, Associate Director of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. “Instead, this administration must give our forests the bear essentials.”

    With the national forest system facing unprecedented threats from climate change and energy development, the strong protections for water, wildlife, and wilderness that have been in place for the better part of three decades are needed now more than ever.

    Promulgating a new forest management policy is one of the most important environmental actions that the Obama administration will be taking during its tenure.  The administration’s final policy should include strong, clear, national standards for safeguarding water quality and valuable fish and wildlife habitat so that our forests – and the critical resources that they provide – are adequately protected.

    Summary:

    • Proposed forest planning regulations released by the Obama administration today fail to provide critical, concrete protections for water and wildlife.
    • The administration’s proposal would roll back strong safeguards for wildlife conservation issued by the Reagan administration in 1982: a requirement that the U.S. Forest Service maintain healthy, sustainable fish and wildlife populations.
    • The proposal would leave the decision of whether or not to maintain healthy, viable populations of many imperiled wildlife species at the discretion of individual forest managers, leaving the fate of hundreds of species uncertain.
    • The proposal would allow individual forest managers the discretion to “give up” on protecting many needy species without facing accountability to the public.

    Background:

    Congress passed the National Forest Management Act in 1976 to reform the Forest Service and to ensure that the agency give due consideration to non-timber values, such as recreation, wildlife, and water. In 1982, the Reagan administration adopted wildlife viability protection in response to declines in the population and range of many species caused by the routine approval of logging and other development projects that did not take the need to conserve wildlife into account. The Reagan rule, currently in effect, supports populations of popular game species such as elk, moose, and black bear, and helps keep sensitive and rare species off the endangered species list by identifying and correcting wildlife population declines before species become imperiled.

    In 2005 and again in 2008, the Bush administration tried to rewrite these regulations, lifting the requirement that the Forest Service manage its lands so that all native species can remain viable. Defenders of Wildlife challenged the Bush administration’s proposals in the courts. Ultimately, the court found that the Forest Service violated the National Environment Policy Act by approving the new regulations based on a faulty environmental impact statement that failed to analyze adequately the environmental impacts of the new regulations, and that it had violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to examine the effects of eliminating wildlife protection standards on protected species.

    Contact info:

    Nathan Newcomer
    Associate Director
    New Mexico Wilderness Alliance
    142 Truman St. Suite B1
    Albuquerque, NM 87108
    505-843-8696, ext. 106
    505-843-8697 fax
    www.nmwild.org

  • For Immediate Release
    Date: March 30, 2011

    Contact: John Olivas, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance
    Phone: 505-379-5551

    Contact: Oscar Simpson, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers
    Phone: 505-917-2134

    NMWA letterhead email

    Sen. Bingaman Wins Praise for Reintroducing New Mexico Conservation Bill

    Rio Grande del Norte NCA/Wilderness Bill Has Broad Local Support

    Sportsmen, conservationists, small business owners and others cheered the reintroduction today of a bill to create a nearly 236,000-acre conservation area that will include 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.

    “Senator Bingaman’s proposal will protect and enhance the recreational, ecological, scenic and cultural resources of northern New Mexico’s shared public lands,” said John Olivas, owner of JACO Outfitters and Northern New Mexico director of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, “while also recognizing the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, protecting the rights of our traditional communities for future generations.”

    “New Mexico sportsmen applaud Senator Bingaman for reintroducing this key proposal which will ensure that our hunting and fishing opportunities can be passed down to our children,” said Garrett Veneklasen with Trout Unlimited-New Mexico and chair of the New Mexico Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. “These pursuits are vital to the economy of our state, bringing in more than $300 million and supporting some 8,000 jobs.”

    The bill will designate nearly 236,000 acres as a National Conservation Area (NCA), including two wilderness areas – the 13,420-acre Cerro del Yuta Wilderness (the iconic Ute Mountain) and the 8,000-acre Rio San Antonio Wilderness. The area contains some of the most spectacular lands and habitat in the state, and is an important migratory flyway for a number of bird species.  Areas within the Rio Grande gorge – which at some places is a half mile wide across and drops to the Rio Grande River 800 feet below – are treasured for hiking, horseback riding and wildlife watching.

    “This important conservation bill will ensure that our children and grandchildren will forever be able to experience the land as we have,” said Questa Mayor Esther Garcia.  “Passing down this natural legacy is our inherited responsibility.”

    The bill is cosponsored by Senator Tom Udall.  Representatives Ben Ray Luján and Martin Heinrich have introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

    # # #

  • Their View: Wilderness act will enhance border security and boost habitat protection

    By Jim Bates and Don Patterson / For the Sun-News
    Posted: 05/26/2011 03:59:40 AM MDT

    We commend the introduction last week of wilderness conservation legislation by Sen. Jeff Bingaman and Sen. Tom Udall. After enjoying these lands and their incredible bounties for decades, it is only right that we pass the same wonderful benefits down to future generations.

    We have long taken our families, friends, and many visitors into these rugged and beautiful lands outside our collective back door. Exploring the canyons, grasslands, and mountains that make up the Organs, Broad Canyon, and the Potrillos is a never ending adventure. But during our lifetimes, we have seen these natural treasures slowly whittled away. As recently as the 1980s, there were no houses except for a few ranches, between A Mountain and the Organs. Much has changed in the last three decades. The same fate has occurred in the valley between Las Cruces and Hatch and between Las Cruces and El Paso.

    This is why legislation is needed to safeguard our natural treasures. The Organ Mountains – Doña Ana County Conservation and Protection Act will keep these mountains, grasslands and other shared lands just as they are today. Protecting these lands means passing on high quality habitat and natural resources in perpetuity, and passing down traditions like hunting, hiking, horseback riding, camping, scientific study or just spending quality outdoor family time. Conserving part of what makes Doña Ana County so special will serve the greater good for those of us who wish to forever enjoy these places and pass them down to our children’s children. The key is finding a balance between providing opportunity for recreation within these areas, conserving them as reservoirs of clean water and air and as habitat for wildlife, and meeting the needs of a growing population. The communities of the Mesilla Valley have more than ample room for growth and expansion without infringing on the pristine natural landscapes that surround us. These areas deserve our consideration and protection.

    Sen. Bingaman, through time-consuming work and thoughtful leadership found real compromise and balance on this outstanding plan. Several years of give and take and field trips out on the land produced an important milestone: a proposal to protect many of our most important lands in Doña Ana County. We are proud to have been a part of this process.

    Most concerns have focused on perceived border security issues. We agree with top local and national Border Patrol officials that this legislation will enhance border security, now and in the future. The Organ Mountains – Doña Ana County Conservation and Protection Act creates a larger border security zone, combining an additional buffer area (five more miles that currently exists), an east-west security corridor, and explicit authorization for overflights and other border security activities. Indeed, the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, who oversees Border Patrol, wrote a letter last year supporting the strengthened proposal. In it, Commissioner Alan Bersin states that the bill “would significantly enhance the flexibility of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to operate in this border area.”

    Sen. Bingaman, Sen. Udall and their staffs did tremendous work in reaching out to the many varied interests and stakeholders, and we feel fortunate to have had their leadership at the helm steering this historic legislation to the point of making this long sought after goal of protection possible. As sportsmen and horsemen, we encourage Congressman Steve Pearce to join Sen. Bingaman and Sen. Udall in supporting high quality habitat, strengthened border security, and our outdoor heritage by moving the Organ Mountains – Doña Ana County Conservation and Protection Act through Congress and to the president’s desk with good speed.

    Jim Bates is vice president of the Doña Ana County Associated Sportsmen (DACAS celebrates its 52nd year this fall). Don Patterson is vice president of the Lower Rio Grande Chapter, Back Country Horsemen of America. 

    Original post at http://www.lcsun-news.com/las_cruces-opinion/ci_18142737

  • Their View: Wilderness act will enhance border security and boost habitat protection

    By Jim Bates and Don Patterson / For the Sun-News
    Posted: 05/26/2011 03:59:40 AM MDT

    We commend the introduction last week of wilderness conservation legislation by Sen. Jeff Bingaman and Sen. Tom Udall. After enjoying these lands and their incredible bounties for decades, it is only right that we pass the same wonderful benefits down to future generations.

    We have long taken our families, friends, and many visitors into these rugged and beautiful lands outside our collective back door. Exploring the canyons, grasslands, and mountains that make up the Organs, Broad Canyon, and the Potrillos is a never ending adventure. But during our lifetimes, we have seen these natural treasures slowly whittled away. As recently as the 1980s, there were no houses except for a few ranches, between A Mountain and the Organs. Much has changed in the last three decades. The same fate has occurred in the valley between Las Cruces and Hatch and between Las Cruces and El Paso.

    This is why legislation is needed to safeguard our natural treasures. The Organ Mountains – Doña Ana County Conservation and Protection Act will keep these mountains, grasslands and other shared lands just as they are today. Protecting these lands means passing on high quality habitat and natural resources in perpetuity, and passing down traditions like hunting, hiking, horseback riding, camping, scientific study or just spending quality outdoor family time. Conserving part of what makes Doña Ana County so special will serve the greater good for those of us who wish to forever enjoy these places and pass them down to our children’s children. The key is finding a balance between providing opportunity for recreation within these areas, conserving them as reservoirs of clean water and air and as habitat for wildlife, and meeting the needs of a growing population. The communities of the Mesilla Valley have more than ample room for growth and expansion without infringing on the pristine natural landscapes that surround us. These areas deserve our consideration and protection.

    Sen. Bingaman, through time-consuming work and thoughtful leadership found real compromise and balance on this outstanding plan. Several years of give and take and field trips out on the land produced an important milestone: a proposal to protect many of our most important lands in Doña Ana County. We are proud to have been a part of this process.

    Most concerns have focused on perceived border security issues. We agree with top local and national Border Patrol officials that this legislation will enhance border security, now and in the future. The Organ Mountains – Doña Ana County Conservation and Protection Act creates a larger border security zone, combining an additional buffer area (five more miles that currently exists), an east-west security corridor, and explicit authorization for overflights and other border security activities. Indeed, the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, who oversees Border Patrol, wrote a letter last year supporting the strengthened proposal. In it, Commissioner Alan Bersin states that the bill “would significantly enhance the flexibility of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to operate in this border area.”

    Sen. Bingaman, Sen. Udall and their staffs did tremendous work in reaching out to the many varied interests and stakeholders, and we feel fortunate to have had their leadership at the helm steering this historic legislation to the point of making this long sought after goal of protection possible. As sportsmen and horsemen, we encourage Congressman Steve Pearce to join Sen. Bingaman and Sen. Udall in supporting high quality habitat, strengthened border security, and our outdoor heritage by moving the Organ Mountains – Doña Ana County Conservation and Protection Act through Congress and to the president’s desk with good speed.

    Jim Bates is vice president of the Doña Ana County Associated Sportsmen (DACAS celebrates its 52nd year this fall). Don Patterson is vice president of the Lower Rio Grande Chapter, Back Country Horsemen of America. 

    Original post at http://www.lcsun-news.com/las_cruces-opinion/ci_18142737

  • July 25, 2011

    by Phil Taylor and Jean Chemnick

    Republican lawmakers intend to offer amendments to the fiscal 2012 Interior and U.S. EPA funding bill to prevent the Fish and Wildlife Service from funding a recovery program for Mexican wolves in the Southwest and a provision to remove environmental restrictions on U.S. border patrol.

    Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) today said he will likely offer an amendment similar to one he offered to the House’s fiscal 2011 continuing resolution in February that would prevent FWS from funding recovery of Mexican wolves.

    The animals, which differ from the gray wolf of the northern Rockies and Great Lakes, once roamed throughout broad portions of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Mexico, but came into conflict with human settlement in the 1900s, including livestock operations, according to FWS.

    Pearce said he is also likely to offer an amendment to prohibit EPA from offering grants for environmental cleanups in foreign countries.

    “Why should we be borrowing from China to pay for China’s environmental cleanup?” he said this afternoon at the Capitol.

    Meanwhile, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) said he will likely offer a border protection amendment that will prohibit the Interior Department or the Forest Service from using funds to “impede, prohibit or restrict activities” of the Department of Homeland Security on public lands near the U.S. border with Mexico.

    Bishop said the language resembles a proposal by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) that was included in a Senate funding bill but was watered down in conference.

    Bishop this year introduced H.R. 1505, a proposal that would allow DHS to waive major environmental laws on public lands within 100 miles of the U.S. border.

    That bill came before the Natural Resources Committee earlier this month (Land Letter, July 14).

    Bishop added that he expects as many amendments to be offered as there are “stars under the heavens” to the funding bill, which would undercut the Obama administration’s request by nearly $4 billion.

    But he expects the chamber to put forward a unanimous consent (UC) request tomorrow to move to a structured rule.

    “They want to have all the amendments filed by tonight so they can look at what is there,” Bishop said. “Why didn’t we just do a structured rule in the first place and forget the charade of doing an open rule just so we can do a UC later on?”

    Bishop added that the bill’s funding cuts for EPA, while not as low as some Republican members had hoped, are a meaningful first step to reining in harmful government overreach.

    He added that House leaders hope to have the funding bill wrapped up by the end of the week but that action on the bill may happen intermittently as the chamber grapples with other pressing measures such as deficit reduction.

    Another amendment was offered on the floor today by Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas to reduce spending levels to those recommended by the conservative Republican Study Committee.

    The measure drew howls from Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), who warned that it would zero out land acquisition for FWS and the Forest Service, while cutting $3 billion from spending altogether.

    The amendment was also opposed by Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), the chairman of the House Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee.

    Moran also offered an amendment to transfer $18.6 million from the Bureau of Land Management’s resource management program to fund Indian Sanitation Services.

    House Democrats plan to offer as many as 32 amendments to strike the bill’s numerous prohibitions on the use of funds to craft and implement environmental rules in fiscal 2012.

    A list of proposed Democratic amendments obtained by E&ENews PM shows that House Democrats may offer an amendment to eliminate the bill’s one-year stay on EPA greenhouse gas emissions regulations for stationary sources. Another amendment would strike the bill’s language barring EPA from preparing vehicle emissions regulations to take effect after model year 2016.

    Democrats will also take aim at riders to bar EPA from implementing new regulations for hazardous and smog- and soot-forming emissions from power plants and from implementing new Clean Air Act regulations for the manufacturers of portland cement.

    Also on the docket could be amendments to kill the bill’s moratoriums on new rules for mountaintop mining, the regulation of coal ash and EPA’s plans to expand the reach of the Clean Water Act, among many other amendments.

    Chamber Democrats also plan to offer some amendments to increase funding for several projects under the bill, but they have not released details yet.

    Meanwhile, Rep. John Sullivan (R-Okla.) will reprise an amendment he also offered to this spring’s fiscal 2011 continuing spending resolution, which would block EPA from using funds to approve higher-blend ethanol (E15) until further research is done into its effect on motors.

    Patrick Kelly, a senior policy adviser at the American Petroleum Institute, said the oil and gas trade association supports the Sullivan amendment because EPA has not conducted enough research to ensure E15 does not corrode engines.

    “It’s not because we’re opposed in general to ethanol,” Kelly said. “We think EPA jumped the gun and approved E15 prematurely.”

    But the ethanol trade group Growth Energy said the Sullivan amendment — co-sponsored by Michigan Democrat Gary Peters — would “perpetuate America’s addiction to foreign oil and harm our economy.”

    “Ethanol is the only competition to foreign oil we have today, and E15 is a proven fuel for today’s autos that is cheaper than gasoline refined from foreign oil,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis.

  • July 25, 2011

    by Phil Taylor and Jean Chemnick

    Republican lawmakers intend to offer amendments to the fiscal 2012 Interior and U.S. EPA funding bill to prevent the Fish and Wildlife Service from funding a recovery program for Mexican wolves in the Southwest and a provision to remove environmental restrictions on U.S. border patrol.

    Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) today said he will likely offer an amendment similar to one he offered to the House’s fiscal 2011 continuing resolution in February that would prevent FWS from funding recovery of Mexican wolves.

    The animals, which differ from the gray wolf of the northern Rockies and Great Lakes, once roamed throughout broad portions of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Mexico, but came into conflict with human settlement in the 1900s, including livestock operations, according to FWS.

    Pearce said he is also likely to offer an amendment to prohibit EPA from offering grants for environmental cleanups in foreign countries.

    “Why should we be borrowing from China to pay for China’s environmental cleanup?” he said this afternoon at the Capitol.

    Meanwhile, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) said he will likely offer a border protection amendment that will prohibit the Interior Department or the Forest Service from using funds to “impede, prohibit or restrict activities” of the Department of Homeland Security on public lands near the U.S. border with Mexico.

    Bishop said the language resembles a proposal by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) that was included in a Senate funding bill but was watered down in conference.

    Bishop this year introduced H.R. 1505, a proposal that would allow DHS to waive major environmental laws on public lands within 100 miles of the U.S. border.

    That bill came before the Natural Resources Committee earlier this month (Land Letter, July 14).

    Bishop added that he expects as many amendments to be offered as there are “stars under the heavens” to the funding bill, which would undercut the Obama administration’s request by nearly $4 billion.

    But he expects the chamber to put forward a unanimous consent (UC) request tomorrow to move to a structured rule.

    “They want to have all the amendments filed by tonight so they can look at what is there,” Bishop said. “Why didn’t we just do a structured rule in the first place and forget the charade of doing an open rule just so we can do a UC later on?”

    Bishop added that the bill’s funding cuts for EPA, while not as low as some Republican members had hoped, are a meaningful first step to reining in harmful government overreach.

    He added that House leaders hope to have the funding bill wrapped up by the end of the week but that action on the bill may happen intermittently as the chamber grapples with other pressing measures such as deficit reduction.

    Another amendment was offered on the floor today by Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas to reduce spending levels to those recommended by the conservative Republican Study Committee.

    The measure drew howls from Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), who warned that it would zero out land acquisition for FWS and the Forest Service, while cutting $3 billion from spending altogether.

    The amendment was also opposed by Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), the chairman of the House Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee.

    Moran also offered an amendment to transfer $18.6 million from the Bureau of Land Management’s resource management program to fund Indian Sanitation Services.

    House Democrats plan to offer as many as 32 amendments to strike the bill’s numerous prohibitions on the use of funds to craft and implement environmental rules in fiscal 2012.

    A list of proposed Democratic amendments obtained by E&ENews PM shows that House Democrats may offer an amendment to eliminate the bill’s one-year stay on EPA greenhouse gas emissions regulations for stationary sources. Another amendment would strike the bill’s language barring EPA from preparing vehicle emissions regulations to take effect after model year 2016.

    Democrats will also take aim at riders to bar EPA from implementing new regulations for hazardous and smog- and soot-forming emissions from power plants and from implementing new Clean Air Act regulations for the manufacturers of portland cement.

    Also on the docket could be amendments to kill the bill’s moratoriums on new rules for mountaintop mining, the regulation of coal ash and EPA’s plans to expand the reach of the Clean Water Act, among many other amendments.

    Chamber Democrats also plan to offer some amendments to increase funding for several projects under the bill, but they have not released details yet.

    Meanwhile, Rep. John Sullivan (R-Okla.) will reprise an amendment he also offered to this spring’s fiscal 2011 continuing spending resolution, which would block EPA from using funds to approve higher-blend ethanol (E15) until further research is done into its effect on motors.

    Patrick Kelly, a senior policy adviser at the American Petroleum Institute, said the oil and gas trade association supports the Sullivan amendment because EPA has not conducted enough research to ensure E15 does not corrode engines.

    “It’s not because we’re opposed in general to ethanol,” Kelly said. “We think EPA jumped the gun and approved E15 prematurely.”

    But the ethanol trade group Growth Energy said the Sullivan amendment — co-sponsored by Michigan Democrat Gary Peters — would “perpetuate America’s addiction to foreign oil and harm our economy.”

    “Ethanol is the only competition to foreign oil we have today, and E15 is a proven fuel for today’s autos that is cheaper than gasoline refined from foreign oil,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis.

  • Letters: A Green Fire Still Burns
    Albuquerque Alibi V.20 No.7 | February 17 – 23, 2011

    Dear Alibi,

    As a supporter of Mexican wolves, I was pleased to read the article “Lawsuit Against Wolves Withdrawn” in a local paper. The same anti-wolf interests that filed this lawsuit are now working to strip our beleaguered Mexican wolves of Endangered Species Act protections. The little lobos only number 50 animals in the wild and they face extinction.

    In his essay “A Monument to a Passenger Pigeon,” Aldo Leopold states, “For one species to mourn the death of another is a new thing under the sun.” While perhaps true in 1947, unfortunately, now species go extinct at an alarming rate.

    But to allow the extinction of the lobo is unacceptable. They are critical to their ecosystems and they are well-loved. According to one survey, seven in 10 New Mexican voters support the recovery of Mexican wolves. The extinction of the lobo is not worth a couple of cattle.

    Recently, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced a bill (SB 249) that would strip endangered species protection from all gray wolves (Canis lupus). If passed, the result will spell wolf eradication—but it is especially significant to the Mexican wolf because it is so imperiled.

    We need Congress to uphold the tenets of the Endangered Species Act for the benefit of all wildlife, and not to take protection away from a species for a vocal few and their big-business political allies.

    To paraphrase Leopold, there will always be wolves in books and in museums, but these are effigies and images, dead to all hardships and to all delights. Book wolves know no urge of seasons; they feel no spring kiss of their young, no sun in summer nor wind in winter. They live forever by not living at all.

    Christina Hartsock

  • Letters: A Green Fire Still Burns
    Albuquerque Alibi V.20 No.7 | February 17 – 23, 2011

    Dear Alibi,

    As a supporter of Mexican wolves, I was pleased to read the article “Lawsuit Against Wolves Withdrawn” in a local paper. The same anti-wolf interests that filed this lawsuit are now working to strip our beleaguered Mexican wolves of Endangered Species Act protections. The little lobos only number 50 animals in the wild and they face extinction.

    In his essay “A Monument to a Passenger Pigeon,” Aldo Leopold states, “For one species to mourn the death of another is a new thing under the sun.” While perhaps true in 1947, unfortunately, now species go extinct at an alarming rate.

    But to allow the extinction of the lobo is unacceptable. They are critical to their ecosystems and they are well-loved. According to one survey, seven in 10 New Mexican voters support the recovery of Mexican wolves. The extinction of the lobo is not worth a couple of cattle.

    Recently, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced a bill (SB 249) that would strip endangered species protection from all gray wolves (Canis lupus). If passed, the result will spell wolf eradication—but it is especially significant to the Mexican wolf because it is so imperiled.

    We need Congress to uphold the tenets of the Endangered Species Act for the benefit of all wildlife, and not to take protection away from a species for a vocal few and their big-business political allies.

    To paraphrase Leopold, there will always be wolves in books and in museums, but these are effigies and images, dead to all hardships and to all delights. Book wolves know no urge of seasons; they feel no spring kiss of their young, no sun in summer nor wind in winter. They live forever by not living at all.

    Christina Hartsock

  • Treasured Terrain Worth Saving

    Santa Fe New Mexican, April 3, 2011
    Original post:http://www.santafenewmexican.com/Opinion/Our-view-Treasured-terrain-worth-saving

    Jeff Bingaman’s legacy to his country and the state he’s served in the U.S. Senate already is a great one; among many other items are the Valle Vidal and the preservation of the Valles Caldera in the Jemez Mountains, both carried out in cooperation with the now-retired Sen. Pete Domenici. 

    But Bingaman is well aware that there are other treasures to be set aside for future generations. Now that he’s announced his impending retirement, he’s making another effort: He’s re-introducing the Rio Grande del Norte National Conservation Area bill. 

    It didn’t make it through the last Congress, but it’s a long-overdue measure: It would create a 236,000-acre conservation area near the Río Grande Gorge, and it would set aside two federally designated wilderness areas: 8,000 acres of San Antonio Mountain and 13,000 acres of that highly visible knoll known as Ute Mountain rising above the San Luis Valley along the Colorado border. 

    The vast majority of the land already is in the hands of the federal Bureau of Land Management, while other parts are held by the State Land Office, which appears willing to swap that acreage for other property. Private holdings wouldn’t be condemned, although buyouts might be offered. And what’s really appealing about the Bingaman proposal is that it will specifically protect existing ranching within the conservation area. 

    But no new roads would be allowed — and the bill would prohibit mineral development and put a stop to sales of public land. Hunting, fishing, piñon-gathering and other traditional uses would be protected. 

    Sen. Tom Udall and Reps. Ben Ray Luján and Martin Heinrich are in support — with good reason: 

    It would preserve one of our nation’s last outstanding ecosystems, rugged land isolated by the great gorge — and so dry and rugged that it discouraged settlement. 

    It’s a land of eagles and hawks; elk, antelope and bighorn sheep; of cougars, bobcats and bears. It was long ago described as land without water; enough, perhaps, for wildlife — but not enough to invite villages or towns. 

    Its touristic possibilities, however, are great — not only for visitors willing to abide by the rules of nonmechanization that come with national wildernesses, but also as part of the open-land setting that never fails to astound city dwellers on vacation. 

    This is terrain well worth preserving. We salute Sens. Bingaman and Udall, along with Reps. Luján and Heinrich, for recognizing the need to set it aside — and we wish them well as they guide it across Capitol Hill.

  • Treasured Terrain Worth Saving

    Santa Fe New Mexican, April 3, 2011
    Original post:http://www.santafenewmexican.com/Opinion/Our-view-Treasured-terrain-worth-saving

    Jeff Bingaman’s legacy to his country and the state he’s served in the U.S. Senate already is a great one; among many other items are the Valle Vidal and the preservation of the Valles Caldera in the Jemez Mountains, both carried out in cooperation with the now-retired Sen. Pete Domenici. 

    But Bingaman is well aware that there are other treasures to be set aside for future generations. Now that he’s announced his impending retirement, he’s making another effort: He’s re-introducing the Rio Grande del Norte National Conservation Area bill. 

    It didn’t make it through the last Congress, but it’s a long-overdue measure: It would create a 236,000-acre conservation area near the Río Grande Gorge, and it would set aside two federally designated wilderness areas: 8,000 acres of San Antonio Mountain and 13,000 acres of that highly visible knoll known as Ute Mountain rising above the San Luis Valley along the Colorado border. 

    The vast majority of the land already is in the hands of the federal Bureau of Land Management, while other parts are held by the State Land Office, which appears willing to swap that acreage for other property. Private holdings wouldn’t be condemned, although buyouts might be offered. And what’s really appealing about the Bingaman proposal is that it will specifically protect existing ranching within the conservation area. 

    But no new roads would be allowed — and the bill would prohibit mineral development and put a stop to sales of public land. Hunting, fishing, piñon-gathering and other traditional uses would be protected. 

    Sen. Tom Udall and Reps. Ben Ray Luján and Martin Heinrich are in support — with good reason: 

    It would preserve one of our nation’s last outstanding ecosystems, rugged land isolated by the great gorge — and so dry and rugged that it discouraged settlement. 

    It’s a land of eagles and hawks; elk, antelope and bighorn sheep; of cougars, bobcats and bears. It was long ago described as land without water; enough, perhaps, for wildlife — but not enough to invite villages or towns. 

    Its touristic possibilities, however, are great — not only for visitors willing to abide by the rules of nonmechanization that come with national wildernesses, but also as part of the open-land setting that never fails to astound city dwellers on vacation. 

    This is terrain well worth preserving. We salute Sens. Bingaman and Udall, along with Reps. Luján and Heinrich, for recognizing the need to set it aside — and we wish them well as they guide it across Capitol Hill.

  • RANCHERS SHARING THE LAND

    Double Circle Ranch – Southeast Arizona

    “There is no reason that people and other predators cannot coexist.”

    double circle ranchThe Double Circle Ranch is a historic cattle ranch in the heart of the Mexican gray wolf recovery area, adjacent to the Apache National Forest, near the Arizona-New Mexico border. The Double Circle is a working “dude ranch” with several hundred head of Texas Longhorn cattle, which are grazed on public land. The ranch prides itself on sustainable practices, using rotational grazing to build the health of the soil, water, and forage. The result is increased wildlife diversity and numbers, including prey for the wolf and other predators.

    The ranch owners are pro-wildlife and pro-wolf. Says the owner, “Double Circle Ranch has never had a wolf kill. Cattle and wolves can coexist. But it requires extra time and labor – which of course means extra expense on the part of the rancher. We try to ride and herd our cattle daily. The presence of human activity in the cattle herd seems to prevent wolves from preying on the livestock. Any time you can prevent a wolf kill rather than compensate ranchers for wolf losses, you are helping the wolves adapt to feeding on wildlife instead of livestock. The wolves don’t learn to use cattle as a feed source.”

    The bottom line for the Double Circle ranchers is respect for the land, which is not just a place to raise cattle, but an end in itself supporting a complete, whole ecosystem. In the words of the ranch manager, “It is impossible to tell how much the potential loss of this wolf would affect the ecological balance in our country… Extinct is final, and it can’t be changed later.”

    Learn More:

    Visit the Double Circle Ranch website
    Read the NM Wild! Summer 2010 Newsletter article by the owner of the Double Circle

  • RANCHERS SHARING THE LAND

    Double Circle Ranch – Southeast Arizona

    “There is no reason that people and other predators cannot coexist.”

    double circle ranchThe Double Circle Ranch is a historic cattle ranch in the heart of the Mexican gray wolf recovery area, adjacent to the Apache National Forest, near the Arizona-New Mexico border. The Double Circle is a working “dude ranch” with several hundred head of Texas Longhorn cattle, which are grazed on public land. The ranch prides itself on sustainable practices, using rotational grazing to build the health of the soil, water, and forage. The result is increased wildlife diversity and numbers, including prey for the wolf and other predators.

    The ranch owners are pro-wildlife and pro-wolf. Says the owner, “Double Circle Ranch has never had a wolf kill. Cattle and wolves can coexist. But it requires extra time and labor – which of course means extra expense on the part of the rancher. We try to ride and herd our cattle daily. The presence of human activity in the cattle herd seems to prevent wolves from preying on the livestock. Any time you can prevent a wolf kill rather than compensate ranchers for wolf losses, you are helping the wolves adapt to feeding on wildlife instead of livestock. The wolves don’t learn to use cattle as a feed source.”

    The bottom line for the Double Circle ranchers is respect for the land, which is not just a place to raise cattle, but an end in itself supporting a complete, whole ecosystem. In the words of the ranch manager, “It is impossible to tell how much the potential loss of this wolf would affect the ecological balance in our country… Extinct is final, and it can’t be changed later.”

    Learn More:

    Visit the Double Circle Ranch website
    Read the NM Wild! Summer 2010 Newsletter article by the owner of the Double Circle

  • PUBLIC EDUCATION HEROES

    Elke Duerr – Wild Wolf Film, New Mexico

    Elke DuerrThe mission of Elke Duerr’s Wild Wolf Film Project: “to use film, digital media, and community outreach to advance the recovery of the Mexican Gray Wolf and other endangered species by teaching about their role in the ecosystem, and providing creative solutions to a healthy long term relationship between nature and humans.”

    Elke’s presentations on the Mexican Gray Wolf at New Mexico schools, libraries, galleries, and other public places are opening minds, eyes, and hearts to the plight of the world’s most endangered wolf. Her presentations feature footage from her film examining the Mexican wolf recovery project, “Stories of Wolves: The Lobo Returns” and storytelling to promote the peaceful coexistence of humans and wildlife.

    Learn more:

    Visit to the Wild Wolf Film website
    Read NM Wild’s Press Release: First Wolf Conservation Stamp Grant Awarded to Wild Wolf Film

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