2013

  • Mexican gray wolves could get more room to roam in Arizona and New Mexicounder proposed federal rule changes, and the government would protect them with a new classification as an endangered subspecies of the larger gray-wolf population.

    STORY: Draft rule ends gray wolf protections
    STORY: Environmentalists defend gray wolves

    That reclassification is crucial to restoration efforts in the Southwest because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Friday also proposed removing Endangered Species Act protections from the broader gray-wolf population of the northern Rockies and Great Lakes. Without the reclassification, the fragile Mexican gray-wolf population also would lose protection, hampering efforts to reintroduce the endangered animals to the wild in eastern Arizona and western New Mexico.

    The continuing protections for Mexican wolves would include new tolerance for wolves to populate forests as far north as Interstate 40 and as far south as Interstate 10.

    Their current recovery area is restricted to the Blue Range straddling both states, and if packs establish themselves beyond those boundaries, they are usually captured and relocated to the recovery area.

    “After 15 years of experimenting with Mexican wolf reintroduction, we are now proposing modifications that we believe improve growth and the genetic health of the overall population,” said Benjamin Tuggle, a regional director for the Fish and Wildlife Service.

    If approved later this year, the plan also would allow release of captive wolves into New Mexico’s Gila National Forest for the first time. Previously, all releases from captive breeding programs were in Arizona’s Apache National Forest, compressing the zone of new blood and of conflicts. At least 46 wolves have been shot illegally, and most shootings are unsolved.

    As of the last census at the end of 2012, 75 Mexican gray wolves were in the wild. They are a smaller relative of the gray wolf, whose numbers have soared into the thousands in the northern United States. In both the northern Rockies and the Southwest, conflicts with livestock led ranchers and government trappers to target both the gray wolves and Mexican gray wolves during the 20th century.

    National conservation groups, including the Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife, condemned the move to delist wolves elsewhere though wolf advocates have both hopes and fears for what the plans mean for Mexican wolves.

    Expanding the zone of tolerance will help wolves multiply, he said. But the zone will not help wolves that roam between I-10 and the Mexican border. If wolves chase livestock in that region, they may be shot or trapped legally.

    Biologists rounded up the last wild Mexican wolves for breeding during the 1980s and started releasing their offspring into eastern Arizona in 1998. The ground available for releases was limited to about a million acres in the Apache National Forest, but the rule change would add about triple that acreage for reintroduction in New Mexico.

    Because the government classified these wolves as experimental and restricted them to a core recovery zone, wildlife agents have rounded up wolves that previously established home territories beyond the Blue Range. The new rule, now available for public comment, would tolerate packs between Arizona’s two major east-west freeways. Theoretically, it means wolves could spread across the Mogollon Rim, the southwestern edge of the Colorado Plateau that runs through the state from the Grand Canyon to east of Show Low, Ariz.

    STORY: Arizona’s endangered Mexican wolves still on brink

    That’s a maddening thought to hunters, including John Koleszar, vice president of the Arizona Deer Association. The state already has too few hunting opportunities, he said, and big-game groups like his donate habitat-enhancement money to boost herds, not to feed wolves.

    “For elk, I put in for archery (permits) every year, and I get drawn about every eight years,” he said. “You’re telling me you want to put another top-line predator all along the Mogollon Rim? It’s wrong.”

    Arizona Game and Fish Department officials said Friday that it is premature to respond to the proposal. They work with the federal Fish and Wildlife Service on wolf restoration. Larry Riley, the department’s assistant director for wildlife management, said that, in general, the state has hoped for more flexibility in both release sites and in removing problem wolves.

    “We’re definitely going to be studying on this,” Riley said of the proposed rules. “There are going to be some pluses and minuses.”

  • Mexican gray wolves could get more room to roam in Arizona and New Mexicounder proposed federal rule changes, and the government would protect them with a new classification as an endangered subspecies of the larger gray-wolf population.

    STORY: Draft rule ends gray wolf protections
    STORY: Environmentalists defend gray wolves

    That reclassification is crucial to restoration efforts in the Southwest because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Friday also proposed removing Endangered Species Act protections from the broader gray-wolf population of the northern Rockies and Great Lakes. Without the reclassification, the fragile Mexican gray-wolf population also would lose protection, hampering efforts to reintroduce the endangered animals to the wild in eastern Arizona and western New Mexico.

    The continuing protections for Mexican wolves would include new tolerance for wolves to populate forests as far north as Interstate 40 and as far south as Interstate 10.

    Their current recovery area is restricted to the Blue Range straddling both states, and if packs establish themselves beyond those boundaries, they are usually captured and relocated to the recovery area.

    “After 15 years of experimenting with Mexican wolf reintroduction, we are now proposing modifications that we believe improve growth and the genetic health of the overall population,” said Benjamin Tuggle, a regional director for the Fish and Wildlife Service.

    If approved later this year, the plan also would allow release of captive wolves into New Mexico’s Gila National Forest for the first time. Previously, all releases from captive breeding programs were in Arizona’s Apache National Forest, compressing the zone of new blood and of conflicts. At least 46 wolves have been shot illegally, and most shootings are unsolved.

    As of the last census at the end of 2012, 75 Mexican gray wolves were in the wild. They are a smaller relative of the gray wolf, whose numbers have soared into the thousands in the northern United States. In both the northern Rockies and the Southwest, conflicts with livestock led ranchers and government trappers to target both the gray wolves and Mexican gray wolves during the 20th century.

    National conservation groups, including the Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife, condemned the move to delist wolves elsewhere though wolf advocates have both hopes and fears for what the plans mean for Mexican wolves.

    Expanding the zone of tolerance will help wolves multiply, he said. But the zone will not help wolves that roam between I-10 and the Mexican border. If wolves chase livestock in that region, they may be shot or trapped legally.

    Biologists rounded up the last wild Mexican wolves for breeding during the 1980s and started releasing their offspring into eastern Arizona in 1998. The ground available for releases was limited to about a million acres in the Apache National Forest, but the rule change would add about triple that acreage for reintroduction in New Mexico.

    Because the government classified these wolves as experimental and restricted them to a core recovery zone, wildlife agents have rounded up wolves that previously established home territories beyond the Blue Range. The new rule, now available for public comment, would tolerate packs between Arizona’s two major east-west freeways. Theoretically, it means wolves could spread across the Mogollon Rim, the southwestern edge of the Colorado Plateau that runs through the state from the Grand Canyon to east of Show Low, Ariz.

    STORY: Arizona’s endangered Mexican wolves still on brink

    That’s a maddening thought to hunters, including John Koleszar, vice president of the Arizona Deer Association. The state already has too few hunting opportunities, he said, and big-game groups like his donate habitat-enhancement money to boost herds, not to feed wolves.

    “For elk, I put in for archery (permits) every year, and I get drawn about every eight years,” he said. “You’re telling me you want to put another top-line predator all along the Mogollon Rim? It’s wrong.”

    Arizona Game and Fish Department officials said Friday that it is premature to respond to the proposal. They work with the federal Fish and Wildlife Service on wolf restoration. Larry Riley, the department’s assistant director for wildlife management, said that, in general, the state has hoped for more flexibility in both release sites and in removing problem wolves.

    “We’re definitely going to be studying on this,” Riley said of the proposed rules. “There are going to be some pluses and minuses.”

  • August 20, 2013
    For Immediate Release

    Contact: Chris Cervini, 505-980-6110

    LAS CRUCES, N.M. – A new economic study by BBC Research & Consulting reveals that designating the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument on public lands in Doña Ana County will have a “significant positive effect” on the local economy.

    The study, commissioned by the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce and released today, estimates that protecting the national monument will generate $7.4 million in new economic activity annually and create 88 new jobs, doubling the number of jobs that these public lands support in outdoor recreation and tourism. The study also estimates an additional $562,000 per year generated in combined state and local government tax revenue from designation of the national monument.

    The full economic report can be viewed at www.OMDPjobs.com and on the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce at www.nmgreenchamber.com/OMDPjobs.

    “This study shows, unequivocally, that protecting our public lands supports local economic growth,” said Carrie Hamblen, Executive Director of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce. “The amount of revenue that will be generated as a result of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks gaining national monument protection will help businesses in Las Cruces and the surrounding areas grow in ways that wouldn’t be possible without monument designation.”

    Laura E. Sanchez, CEO of the statewide New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce, agreed.

    “The prospect of doubling the number of jobs supported by outdoor recreation and tourism in Doña Ana County is promising,” Sanchez said. “Jobs are hard to come by these days, and any initiative that creates new jobs while protecting our shared heritage is an initiative that all New Mexicans can support.”

    Economists and businesses owners agree that protecting public lands could give Doña Ana County a competitive advantage when it comes to attracting new businesses, a possibility that local CEOs like homebuilder Wayne Suggs find exciting.

    “Establishing a national monument will send a strong message about the kind of community we are, and the incredible natural resources that can be found here” said Suggs, co-owner of Classic New Mexico Homes. “Communities with protected public lands not only attract more visitors, they also attract new investment and new residents who value the quality of life in places where they can easily enjoy nature and outdoor recreation. Homebuilders and contractors benefit from this kind of preservation.”

    The economic benefits of designating the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument would go beyond those accruing from visitor spending.

    “The proposed Monument lands provide another community amenity that, when considered with other nearby recreational amenities, provide a compelling case to lure tourists, sportsmen, retirees, businesses and workers to the community,” said economist Adam Orens, the author of the report and Director at BBC Research & Consulting. “Designation will also preserve and protect the historical, cultural and agricultural uses on the proposed Monument for future generations.”

    “With the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks permanently protected, we will be better equipped to promote Las Cruces as a city where businesses and individuals can prosper,” said Philip San Filippo, Director of the Las Cruces Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Just as important, this action will help establish our reputation as a community that’s involved in protecting its unique heritage.”

    The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region serves as an important crossroads of New Mexican and American history. Protected here are sites including the Apollo Mission training areas, Native American petroglyphs and several sites of Hispanic cultural significance.

    “There are sites located inside the proposed national monument that are sacred to New Mexico’s history,” said Nora Barazza, Mayor of Mesilla. “Whether we are discussing the historic Butterfield Stage Trail, the Gadsden Purchase former international boundary, or the Camino Real Trail, this region is a symbolic and important crossroads for the entire continent.”

    The economic report will be discussed in detail with small business owners, the press and public at this week’s “Land and Culture: Economic Opportunities from Conservation” forum on August 23 at the Mesilla Community Center, 2251 Calle de Santiago in Mesilla. For more information about the forum, please visit www.nmgreenchamber.com/OMDP

  • August 20, 2013
    For Immediate Release

    Contact: Chris Cervini, 505-980-6110

    LAS CRUCES, N.M. – A new economic study by BBC Research & Consulting reveals that designating the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument on public lands in Doña Ana County will have a “significant positive effect” on the local economy.

    The study, commissioned by the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce and released today, estimates that protecting the national monument will generate $7.4 million in new economic activity annually and create 88 new jobs, doubling the number of jobs that these public lands support in outdoor recreation and tourism. The study also estimates an additional $562,000 per year generated in combined state and local government tax revenue from designation of the national monument.

    The full economic report can be viewed at www.OMDPjobs.com and on the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce at www.nmgreenchamber.com/OMDPjobs.

    “This study shows, unequivocally, that protecting our public lands supports local economic growth,” said Carrie Hamblen, Executive Director of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce. “The amount of revenue that will be generated as a result of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks gaining national monument protection will help businesses in Las Cruces and the surrounding areas grow in ways that wouldn’t be possible without monument designation.”

    Laura E. Sanchez, CEO of the statewide New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce, agreed.

    “The prospect of doubling the number of jobs supported by outdoor recreation and tourism in Doña Ana County is promising,” Sanchez said. “Jobs are hard to come by these days, and any initiative that creates new jobs while protecting our shared heritage is an initiative that all New Mexicans can support.”

    Economists and businesses owners agree that protecting public lands could give Doña Ana County a competitive advantage when it comes to attracting new businesses, a possibility that local CEOs like homebuilder Wayne Suggs find exciting.

    “Establishing a national monument will send a strong message about the kind of community we are, and the incredible natural resources that can be found here” said Suggs, co-owner of Classic New Mexico Homes. “Communities with protected public lands not only attract more visitors, they also attract new investment and new residents who value the quality of life in places where they can easily enjoy nature and outdoor recreation. Homebuilders and contractors benefit from this kind of preservation.”

    The economic benefits of designating the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument would go beyond those accruing from visitor spending.

    “The proposed Monument lands provide another community amenity that, when considered with other nearby recreational amenities, provide a compelling case to lure tourists, sportsmen, retirees, businesses and workers to the community,” said economist Adam Orens, the author of the report and Director at BBC Research & Consulting. “Designation will also preserve and protect the historical, cultural and agricultural uses on the proposed Monument for future generations.”

    “With the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks permanently protected, we will be better equipped to promote Las Cruces as a city where businesses and individuals can prosper,” said Philip San Filippo, Director of the Las Cruces Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Just as important, this action will help establish our reputation as a community that’s involved in protecting its unique heritage.”

    The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region serves as an important crossroads of New Mexican and American history. Protected here are sites including the Apollo Mission training areas, Native American petroglyphs and several sites of Hispanic cultural significance.

    “There are sites located inside the proposed national monument that are sacred to New Mexico’s history,” said Nora Barazza, Mayor of Mesilla. “Whether we are discussing the historic Butterfield Stage Trail, the Gadsden Purchase former international boundary, or the Camino Real Trail, this region is a symbolic and important crossroads for the entire continent.”

    The economic report will be discussed in detail with small business owners, the press and public at this week’s “Land and Culture: Economic Opportunities from Conservation” forum on August 23 at the Mesilla Community Center, 2251 Calle de Santiago in Mesilla. For more information about the forum, please visit www.nmgreenchamber.com/OMDP

  • new legislation

  • new legislation

  • Renee Blake, Public News Service-NM

    (03/12/13) SANTA FE, N.M. – When both houses of the New Mexico Legislature failed to advance bills to transfer public land management from federal to state hands, it meant more than following the words of the U.S. Constitution.

    According to Kim McCreery, a regional director and staff scientist at New Mexico Wilderness Alliance in Silver City, passing such legislation would have left the state to wrestle with the high costs of significant management issues.

    “We’re talking about fire management and forest restoration,” she said. “There is a clause that would allow the state to sell off public lands to private interests. Extractive industries can then come in and we’ll have mining and oil and gas drilling on what were our public lands,” McCreery went on.

    Ultimately that would mean fewer places for New Mexicans to camp, hike, hunt and fish, because the once-public lands would be privately owned.

    Molly Brook, the program manager with Conservation Voters New Mexico, said this issue could be resolved by better conservation and collaboration between the federal government and the state.

    “What ultimately would be effective is legislation aimed at identifying how to better collaborate with local government and local communities,” Brook said.

    Kim McCreery said it’s more than a lack of cooperation. She said these bills were not based in grassroots concerns. Instead, they appear to be related to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization which produces model legislation to promote conservative ideas.

    “If you go back to 1995, there was an ALEC bill called the Sagebrush Rebellion Act,” she recalled. “If you look at the current bills, you’ll see that a lot of the language is very similar.”

    Although the bills in the New Mexico House and Senate did not advance, McCreery said she expects others like them to be introduced in future legislatures.

    “I would say they will come back again, which is why it’s really important that the public is made aware that they’re the result of corporate interests that simply want to make a profit,” she charged.

    This afternoon, the Senate will introduce Memorial 93, which calls for examining the idea of transferring national public lands to New Mexico.

    The bills are SB404: 1.usa.gov/Zuwuz0; HB292: 1.usa.gov/10DVFoT. More information is at ALEC.org and at bit.ly/mZRT2A.

  • Public News Service – NM | March 2013 | Download audio

    March 25, 2013

    TAOS, N.M. – Three New Mexicans are in Washington, D.C., today joining President Obama for a signing ceremony. They are among hundreds of New Mexicans who have worked for years to get federal protection for the Rio Grande del Norte. Designating the area as a national monument adds an extra layer of security to 240,000 acres of public lands in northern New Mexico.

    In addition to being an important recognition of the traditions and cultural heritage of the area, the designation also means business, according to Brad Malone, board of directors chair, Taos Chamber of Commerce.

    “It’s going to create jobs through direct federal jobs – more study of the petroglyphs, and the rivers and the Gorge,” he said. “It’s also going to increase economic activity by people coming to visit the wilderness areas.”

    A recent report by BBC Research & Consulting says the more than $17 million pumped into the area’s annual economy from tourism is expected to nearly double as a result of the new national monument.

    This means the Bureau of Land Management will keep the landscape largely free from energy development, infrastructure and roads. John Olivas, traditional community organizer with the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, who is at the signing ceremony today, stressed its importance to New Mexicans.

    “A whole gamut of recreational opportunities are available,” he said, “and this landscape protects that. When people come into Taos, they will not only get the cultural and heritage component, but all those recreational opportunities are preserved for everyone who visits Taos County.”

    Having national monument status means cultural, natural and scenic resources will remain for future generations. Religious and cultural sites will be preserved, and traditional uses – grazing, hunting and fishing, and gathering firewood, piñon and herbs – will remain undisturbed, Olivas stressed.

    “Nothing will change,” he said. “We’ve actually made that clear within the language of the legislation. Any type of future development, around any type of oil and gas or any mineral extraction, is definitely going to keep this landscape the way it has always been.”

    Rio Grande del Norte contains thousands of archeological sites, some dating back 11,000 years. The area is also home to bears and cougars, elk, pronghorn and bighorn sheep, and is an important stop along the Rio Grande migratory flyway. Olivas said the designation has been supported by environmentalists, ranchers, outdoor sports aficionados and the business community.
    Renee Blake, Public News Service – NM
    Like this article? Sign up to get headlines via email.

  • Public News Service – NM | March 2013 | Download audio

    March 25, 2013

    TAOS, N.M. – Three New Mexicans are in Washington, D.C., today joining President Obama for a signing ceremony. They are among hundreds of New Mexicans who have worked for years to get federal protection for the Rio Grande del Norte. Designating the area as a national monument adds an extra layer of security to 240,000 acres of public lands in northern New Mexico.

    In addition to being an important recognition of the traditions and cultural heritage of the area, the designation also means business, according to Brad Malone, board of directors chair, Taos Chamber of Commerce.

    “It’s going to create jobs through direct federal jobs – more study of the petroglyphs, and the rivers and the Gorge,” he said. “It’s also going to increase economic activity by people coming to visit the wilderness areas.”

    A recent report by BBC Research & Consulting says the more than $17 million pumped into the area’s annual economy from tourism is expected to nearly double as a result of the new national monument.

    This means the Bureau of Land Management will keep the landscape largely free from energy development, infrastructure and roads. John Olivas, traditional community organizer with the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, who is at the signing ceremony today, stressed its importance to New Mexicans.

    “A whole gamut of recreational opportunities are available,” he said, “and this landscape protects that. When people come into Taos, they will not only get the cultural and heritage component, but all those recreational opportunities are preserved for everyone who visits Taos County.”

    Having national monument status means cultural, natural and scenic resources will remain for future generations. Religious and cultural sites will be preserved, and traditional uses – grazing, hunting and fishing, and gathering firewood, piñon and herbs – will remain undisturbed, Olivas stressed.

    “Nothing will change,” he said. “We’ve actually made that clear within the language of the legislation. Any type of future development, around any type of oil and gas or any mineral extraction, is definitely going to keep this landscape the way it has always been.”

    Rio Grande del Norte contains thousands of archeological sites, some dating back 11,000 years. The area is also home to bears and cougars, elk, pronghorn and bighorn sheep, and is an important stop along the Rio Grande migratory flyway. Olivas said the designation has been supported by environmentalists, ranchers, outdoor sports aficionados and the business community.
    Renee Blake, Public News Service – NM
    Like this article? Sign up to get headlines via email.

  • organsvideofeb2013

    View this Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks story that aired on El Paso station KDBC last week.

  • organsvideofeb2013

    View this Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks story that aired on El Paso station KDBC last week.

  • http://www.koat.com/news/new-mexico/New-Mexico-gets-new-national-monument/-/9153762/19466034/-/2er5gq/-/index.html

  • http://www.koat.com/news/new-mexico/New-Mexico-gets-new-national-monument/-/9153762/19466034/-/2er5gq/-/index.html

  •  

    San Francisco Chronicle
    Tuesday, April 23, 2013

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Members of New Mexico’s congressional delegations are trying again to designate the 45,000-acre Columbine-Hondo area in Taos County as wilderness.

    Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, both Democrats, on Monday reintroduced legislation to give the area permanent wilderness status. A companion bill is expected to be introduced in the House Tuesday by Rep. Ben Ray Luján, a Democrat who represents northern New Mexico.

    Located in the Carson National Forest, the Columbine-Hondo has been managed as a “Wilderness Study Area” since 1980.

    The Columbine-Hondo includes lush forests and alpine meadows that are home elk, mule deer, mountain lions, black bears, and bighorn sheep.

    Udall and Heinrich say giving the area permanent wilderness status will increase profitable tourism opportunities and provide for continued traditional land uses, such as hunting and grazing.

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/news/science/article/NM-delegation-reintroduces-wilderness-bill-4455264.php#ixzz2RK3qgTZ6


  • San Francisco Chronicle
    Tuesday, April 23, 2013

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Members of New Mexico’s congressional delegations are trying again to designate the 45,000-acre Columbine-Hondo area in Taos County as wilderness.

    Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, both Democrats, on Monday reintroduced legislation to give the area permanent wilderness status. A companion bill is expected to be introduced in the House Tuesday by Rep. Ben Ray Luján, a Democrat who represents northern New Mexico.

    Located in the Carson National Forest, the Columbine-Hondo has been managed as a “Wilderness Study Area” since 1980.

    The Columbine-Hondo includes lush forests and alpine meadows that are home elk, mule deer, mountain lions, black bears, and bighorn sheep.

    Udall and Heinrich say giving the area permanent wilderness status will increase profitable tourism opportunities and provide for continued traditional land uses, such as hunting and grazing.

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/news/science/article/NM-delegation-reintroduces-wilderness-bill-4455264.php#ixzz2RK3qgTZ6


  • November 18, 2013
    Public News Service

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The federal government is not doing enough to ensure that the Mexican Gray Wolf does not go extinct, according to attorney Judy Calman with the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is proposing to list the Mexican Gray Wolf as a separate endangered subspecies, while simultaneously proposing to remove the Gray Wolf nationally from protection under the Endangered Species Act.

    Calman said the proposed recovery plan does not adequately expand the animal’s range in New Mexico and Arizona.

    “Wolves don’t carry maps. They don’t know when they’re crossing boundaries. And what they’re going to do is naturally disperse into territory that they can occupy based on prey and terrain and climate,” Calman explained.

    Wolves that stray from the recovery area will be captured and returned, she said, adding that the animals need a much greater habitat area to reestablish distinct population groups and avoid genetic inbreeding.

    About 75 captive-bred Mexican Gray Wolves live in a recovery area located in the Gila National Forest in New Mexico and the Apache-Sitegraves National Forests in Arizona. Sherry Barrett, FWS Mexican Wolf recovery coordinator, said increasing the range area should help the animals grow in number.

    “What our proposals are intended to do is to increase that area within which they can establish more territories, expand their population, which will significantly help us with genetics,” Barrett said.

    The recovery area would increase in size by five times – to 31,000 square miles – if the plan is approved.

    The FWS is accepting public comment on the Mexican Gray Wolf proposal at a hearing scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday at Embassy Suites, 1000 Woodward Place NE, Albuquerque.

    The FWS Mexican Gray Wolf recovery plan is available at www.fws.gov.

  • James McWilliams, Contributor
    Forbes.com
    11/05/2013

    If the October headlines were any indication, the quickest way for a wolf to make the news is to get shot. The Jackson Hole News and Guide reported the story of a Wyoming hunter who bagged a wolf, strapped him atop his SUV, and paraded his trophy through Town Square. A Montana landowner shot what he thought was a wolf (it turned out to be a dog hybrid) amid concerns that the beast was harassing house cats. The Ecologist speculated that hunters were chasing wolves from Oregon, where hunting them is illegal, into Idaho, where it’s not, before delivering fatal doses of “lead poisoning.”

    Predictably, these cases raise the hackles of animal right advocates and conservationists alike. Both groups typically view hunting wolves as a fundamental threat to a wolf population that, after a history of near extermination, is struggling to survive reintegration into the Northern Rockies. According to Michael Robinson, a conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity, “Hunting is now taking a significant toll on wolf populations.”

    While the anger directed toward irresponsible wolf hunters makes perfect sense, it should not obscure the essential reason for the wolf wars in the first place: livestock. Michael Wise, a history professor at the University of North Texas and the author of a forthcoming book on wolves on the Canadian border, says that “The challenge of wolf recovery is reintegrating the animals within a region that was transformed by industrial agriculture during the carnivore’s sixty-year absence.” Protecting migration corridors, expanding habitats, and fostering genetic diversity are integral to this goal. But, as Wise notes, “Opposing the wolf hunts does not address these larger issues.”

    Understanding what would address these larger issues requires momentarily looking backward. Historically speaking, wolves got the shaft. When Lewis and Clark explored the American west at the dawn of the nineteenth century, thousands of wolves thrived across the Northern Rockies. Lewis admiringly called them “the shepherds of the buffalo.”

    But the systemic destruction and commodification of their natural prey–including the buffalo, deer, elk, antelope, and bighorn sheep–as well as the subsequent replacement of wild animals with domesticated livestock, effectively transformed wolves–who wasted no time attacking helpless livestock–from innocent wildlife into guilty predators. Federally sponsored extermination programs–which included the U.S. Bureau of Biological Survey (later the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) hiring hunters to kill wolves en masse–succeeded so well that wolf numbers dropped to virtually nil by 1930. In such ways was the West won. (A similar battle continues, to an extent, in the attempt to remove wild horses today).

    Six decades later, buffeted by the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and the emergence of a modern environmental movement, conservationists were working diligently to restore wolves to their former climes. But the livestock industry had, throughout the century, radically altered the old terrain, not to mention the rules governing it. Twentieth-century grazing practices denatured the wolf’s traditional habitat, reducing the landscape to ruins while securing ranchers’ presumed right to continue exploiting the wild west for tame animals. Michael Robinson, noting that the process of land degradation began in the nineteenth century, puts it this way: ”the west was picked clean of anything of value.”

    Cattle had indeed wrecked havoc. They destroyed watersheds, trampled riparian vegetation, and turned grasslands to hardpan, triggering severe erosion. To top it off, the livestock industry spent the twentieth century securing cheap access to public lands through thousands of grazing permits now granted by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. Today, ranchers enjoy tax-supported access to 270 million acres of public land. Seventy-three percent of publicly-owned land in the west is currently grazed by privately owned livestock. Some of that grazing might be done responsibly. Most of it, according to the BLM itself, is definitely not.

    No matter what the quality of prevailing grazing practices, one thing remains the same as it did a century ago: ranchers have a clear incentive to kill wolves. As environmental groups worked to form a united front in support of wolf reintegration in the mid-1990s, anti-wolf advocates articulated their opinions with vicious clarity. Hank Fischer, author of Wolf Wars and an advocate of wolf reintroduction, recalled the arguments he confronted as he pushed the pro-wolf agenda in Montana. “The Wolf is the Saddam Hussein of the Animal World,” read the placard of one protester. “How Would You Like to Have Your Ass Eaten by a Wolf?,” asked another.

    Politically sanctioned release of pent-up vituperation against wolves came in 2012. It was then when gray wolves were completely removed from endangered species lists. Hunting season commenced with a bang in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. Recreational hunters and ranchers–not to mention the federal Wildlife Services–have since shot hundreds of wolves that ostensibly posed a threat to livestock. At times, such as last week, hunts have evinced grotesque, vigilante-like displays. According to James William Gibson, writing in The Earth Island Journal, “The Northern Rockies have become an unsupervised playpen for reactionaries to act out warrior fantasies against demonic wolves, coastal elites, and idiotic environmentalists.”

    Fortunately, as the debate over wolf hunting rages, cooler heads are trying to prevail. Camilla Fox , Executive Director of Project Coyote, an organization dedicated to the peaceful coexistence of humans and animals, advocates policies that promote, in her words, “predator conservation and stewardship.”

    Working closely with ranchers, she encourages them to have “tolerance and acceptance of wolves on the landscape.” She highlights several non-lethal methods of management, including using guard animals (such as Great Pyrenees and llamas) to deter wolves and coyotes from attacking livestock, better fencing, range-riders, fladry (flags that whip and flap in the wind), and grazing allotment buyouts, a solution that allows private parties to pay ranchers to relinquish their grazing permits. Project Coyote’s work has already had a dramatically successful impact on resolving conflicts between sheep owners and coyotes in Marin County, California.

    Whatever techniques are eventually used to keep wolves off the headlines and in the wilderness, critics of wolf hunting should not lose sight of the fact that, while hunters are an easy (and perhaps legitimate) target for their ire, a lead poisoned wolf in 2013 is ultimately the victim of a century of disastrous decisions regarding land use–specifically, the use of livestock on the landscape. Eliminating grazing permits for western cattle ranchers would negatively impact no more than 10 percent of the beef industry in the United States. Ten percent! Seems a modest tonnage of flesh to sacrifice in order to save a species that symbolizes the beautiful essence of a landscape we have lost.

    As Camilla Fox notes, “they do a lot better when we leave them alone.”

  • Members are invited to vote in our 2013 Board of Directors election from April 29 to May 31, 2013. You may select two candidates. If you have not received an electronic ballot and would like to vote in the election, please request a paper ballot by calling 505-843-8696 or by e-mailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

    Candidate statements

    Kenneth Cole, Albuquerque

    I am very pleased to ask you for another term on NM Wild’s board. I have served as Chairperson
    of the board for the last 18 months and have seen a great deal of progress in that period. The
    designation these days of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument is testimony to the quality of our staff, and to the sound working relationship that has been established between local groups and various state and national conservation organizations. We should all be very proud of this accomplishment, as well as committed to other equally important actions to protect public lands in New Mexico.
    Thank you,
    Ken Cole

    Ken is a retired International Official with extensive experience in negotiating financial and technical support for community based economic and social development undertakings. As a lawyer (Berkeley Law) and an avid bird watcher, Ken has traveled all over the world and observed the benefits of healthy habitats and the problems caused by the degradation of natural resources. Ken has been involved in protection of dryland habitat for 15 years and worked to get the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification ratified.

    Carol Johnson, Glorieta

    Nature and wild places have influenced me all my life. My parents grew up in the country and taught me to respect and love the land and wildlife. My early years were spent in New York state and Connecticut, and summers on my grandparents dairy farm, exploring the fields, hills and wild streams. This instilled in me a forever love of nature.

    It was natural to move West. In 1980 Jon and I purchased 2 horses and a small ranch in So. California bordering the Angeles National Forest. I enjoyed wonderful riding in the mountains, encountering mountain lions and rattlesnakes.

    I have backpacked the north rim of the Grand Canyon numerous times, hiked many western forests and national parks, seen wolves in Yellowstone and ridden my horse in the Pecos Wilderness.

    In 1996 we moved to New Mexico and live on 58 acres in Glorieta, adjacent to the Santa Fe National Forest, together with my 2 dogs, 2 quarterhorses. During the past 16 years I have sadly witnessed the destruction of my beloved forest and streams from development, motorized recreation and bad science. It is depressing to ride through the forest and see the tracks of ATVs instead of deer.

    My relationship as a volunteer with NM Wild began in 2009, when we began working to further protect the Pecos Wilderness by adding adjacent Inventoried Roadless Acres. My involvement includes outreach to county commissions in 4 counties, city governments, businesses, pueblos, equestrian groups, environmental groups, and many other stakeholders. In fact, the title on my NM Wild volunteer business card is Wild Places Outreach Coordinator.

    The background I will bring to the Board includes many years in magazine publishing as director of advertising operations. I am a Board member of the Upper Pecos Watershed Assn., and a member of the New Mexico OHV Advisory Board, representing hikers, equestrians and other quiet recreationists on public lands. As a community activist, I’ve worked extensively on the Santa Fe NF Travel Management Plan, fighting to limit motorized travel and protect the quiet forest.

    I am dedicated to protecting our clean water, mountain watersheds, wildlife and magnificent wild lands. It would be a privilege to be a member of the NM Wild Board.

    Todd Schulke, Silver City

    Todd Schulke is a co-founder and senior staff for the Center for Biological Diversity. He has been involved forest/river protection and restoration in the Southwest for over 20 years.

    He sits on the New Mexico Forest & Watershed Health Planning Committee, the Arizona Governor’s Forest Health Council, and the Western Governor’s Forest Health Advisory Committee. He also served on Senator Bingaman’s Collaborative Forest Restoration Program Advisory Panel, the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Federal Advisory Committee, and the Roadless Area Conservation National Advisory Committee.

    He has been on the board of directors of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance since it’s inception and is also on the board of the Center for Biological Diversity, and Gila WoodNet, a community-based forestry group dedicated to ecologically sound forest restoration.

    He lives with his 2 young sons on the edge of the Gila National Forest in southwestern New Mexico.

    “I’m looking forward to helping the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance continue its invaluable work protecting New Mexico’s wildlands. In a world with a changing climate, growing population, and dwindling ecological awareness NM Wild’s work is more important that ever.”

    Douglas Chinn, Albuquerque

    Doug grew up in Southern Colorado, fishing, camping and climbing in the Sangre de Cristos. He recently retired from Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque and holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and a doctorate in materials science and engineering. Doug has great experience in managing large scientific projects and working within organizations and has worked on wilderness issues in Utah for 15 years. He is completing his first term on NM Wild’s board of directors, and has been instrumental in organizing our Chama River trips and helping with other events.

    Roberta Salazar-Henry, Las Cruces

    Salazar-Henry is a lifelong New Mexico resident with family ties that go back to the 1600s. She currently resides in Las Cruces where she is active with many local organizations. Recently she served on the staff of the state Senate and previously worked many years with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF), including six years as assistant director. For NMDGF she was federal grant liaison with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and was responsible for about $15 million in grant projects.

    Among her many commitments, she is an active member of the Wild Turkey Sportsmen Association, Southwest Consolidated Sportsmen, a member of Audubon and current vice-chair for the Southwest Citizen’s Advisory Committee for the Habitat Stamp Program.

    She is very involved in the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks initiative to establish a national monument in Dona Ana County. She notes that when she moved to Las Cruces 10 years ago she was very disappointed “to learn that much of the 10 million acres of federally managed public land in southwest New Mexico remains in limbo for permanent protection. In addition, most people coming to this area do not know of the many hidden treasures that exist in this desert landscape.”

  • Members are invited to vote in our 2013 Board of Directors election from April 29 to May 31, 2013. You may select two candidates. If you have not received an electronic ballot and would like to vote in the election, please request a paper ballot by calling 505-843-8696 or by e-mailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

    Candidate statements

    Kenneth Cole, Albuquerque

    I am very pleased to ask you for another term on NM Wild’s board. I have served as Chairperson
    of the board for the last 18 months and have seen a great deal of progress in that period. The
    designation these days of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument is testimony to the quality of our staff, and to the sound working relationship that has been established between local groups and various state and national conservation organizations. We should all be very proud of this accomplishment, as well as committed to other equally important actions to protect public lands in New Mexico.
    Thank you,
    Ken Cole

    Ken is a retired International Official with extensive experience in negotiating financial and technical support for community based economic and social development undertakings. As a lawyer (Berkeley Law) and an avid bird watcher, Ken has traveled all over the world and observed the benefits of healthy habitats and the problems caused by the degradation of natural resources. Ken has been involved in protection of dryland habitat for 15 years and worked to get the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification ratified.

    Carol Johnson, Glorieta

    Nature and wild places have influenced me all my life. My parents grew up in the country and taught me to respect and love the land and wildlife. My early years were spent in New York state and Connecticut, and summers on my grandparents dairy farm, exploring the fields, hills and wild streams. This instilled in me a forever love of nature.

    It was natural to move West. In 1980 Jon and I purchased 2 horses and a small ranch in So. California bordering the Angeles National Forest. I enjoyed wonderful riding in the mountains, encountering mountain lions and rattlesnakes.

    I have backpacked the north rim of the Grand Canyon numerous times, hiked many western forests and national parks, seen wolves in Yellowstone and ridden my horse in the Pecos Wilderness.

    In 1996 we moved to New Mexico and live on 58 acres in Glorieta, adjacent to the Santa Fe National Forest, together with my 2 dogs, 2 quarterhorses. During the past 16 years I have sadly witnessed the destruction of my beloved forest and streams from development, motorized recreation and bad science. It is depressing to ride through the forest and see the tracks of ATVs instead of deer.

    My relationship as a volunteer with NM Wild began in 2009, when we began working to further protect the Pecos Wilderness by adding adjacent Inventoried Roadless Acres. My involvement includes outreach to county commissions in 4 counties, city governments, businesses, pueblos, equestrian groups, environmental groups, and many other stakeholders. In fact, the title on my NM Wild volunteer business card is Wild Places Outreach Coordinator.

    The background I will bring to the Board includes many years in magazine publishing as director of advertising operations. I am a Board member of the Upper Pecos Watershed Assn., and a member of the New Mexico OHV Advisory Board, representing hikers, equestrians and other quiet recreationists on public lands. As a community activist, I’ve worked extensively on the Santa Fe NF Travel Management Plan, fighting to limit motorized travel and protect the quiet forest.

    I am dedicated to protecting our clean water, mountain watersheds, wildlife and magnificent wild lands. It would be a privilege to be a member of the NM Wild Board.

    Todd Schulke, Silver City

    Todd Schulke is a co-founder and senior staff for the Center for Biological Diversity. He has been involved forest/river protection and restoration in the Southwest for over 20 years.

    He sits on the New Mexico Forest & Watershed Health Planning Committee, the Arizona Governor’s Forest Health Council, and the Western Governor’s Forest Health Advisory Committee. He also served on Senator Bingaman’s Collaborative Forest Restoration Program Advisory Panel, the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Federal Advisory Committee, and the Roadless Area Conservation National Advisory Committee.

    He has been on the board of directors of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance since it’s inception and is also on the board of the Center for Biological Diversity, and Gila WoodNet, a community-based forestry group dedicated to ecologically sound forest restoration.

    He lives with his 2 young sons on the edge of the Gila National Forest in southwestern New Mexico.

    “I’m looking forward to helping the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance continue its invaluable work protecting New Mexico’s wildlands. In a world with a changing climate, growing population, and dwindling ecological awareness NM Wild’s work is more important that ever.”

    Douglas Chinn, Albuquerque

    Doug grew up in Southern Colorado, fishing, camping and climbing in the Sangre de Cristos. He recently retired from Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque and holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and a doctorate in materials science and engineering. Doug has great experience in managing large scientific projects and working within organizations and has worked on wilderness issues in Utah for 15 years. He is completing his first term on NM Wild’s board of directors, and has been instrumental in organizing our Chama River trips and helping with other events.

    Roberta Salazar-Henry, Las Cruces

    Salazar-Henry is a lifelong New Mexico resident with family ties that go back to the 1600s. She currently resides in Las Cruces where she is active with many local organizations. Recently she served on the staff of the state Senate and previously worked many years with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF), including six years as assistant director. For NMDGF she was federal grant liaison with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and was responsible for about $15 million in grant projects.

    Among her many commitments, she is an active member of the Wild Turkey Sportsmen Association, Southwest Consolidated Sportsmen, a member of Audubon and current vice-chair for the Southwest Citizen’s Advisory Committee for the Habitat Stamp Program.

    She is very involved in the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks initiative to establish a national monument in Dona Ana County. She notes that when she moved to Las Cruces 10 years ago she was very disappointed “to learn that much of the 10 million acres of federally managed public land in southwest New Mexico remains in limbo for permanent protection. In addition, most people coming to this area do not know of the many hidden treasures that exist in this desert landscape.”

  • With your help this year, we have made some exciting progress on our campaigns. Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to another great year ahead. Here is a summary of some of our most important accomplishments in 2013—feats that never could have been possible without your continued support.

    Rio Grande del Norte Newest National Monument

    After seven years of hard work, the 242,500 acre Rio Grande del Norte now has permanent protection as a national monument. It took building alliances with various groups including sportsmen, traditional communities, businesses and politicians to make this happen.

    Continued Fight for Mexican Gray Wolves

    In a rare move, we sued the Department of Justice for failing to prosecute those who illegally kill wolves. We also helped rally more than 500 people to the recent wolf hearing in Albuquerque to let the Fish and Wildlife Service know that we need to expand the range of our lobos. With your help, we sent more than 1,000 online messages to the Fish and Wildlife Service earlier this year telling them to release more lobos.

    Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks named among the top two campaigns in the country

    On the precipice of permanent protection, the community-supported Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument and wilderness proposal enjoys exciting momentum. This year, with your support, NM Wild has wielded diverse supporters and creative partnerships and our national monument proposal enjoys more than 80 percent support in the community.

    Oversight of oil and gas extraction

    This year, we continued our oversight of oil and gas extraction, with particular emphasis on Otero Mesa and Chaco Canyon. We are monitoring federal lease sales in those areas, commenting on associated environmental assessments and filing formal protests for parcels we believe should not be leased at all. This year we have taken the additional step of appealing one Bureau of Land Management (BLM) decision to the Washington, D.C.-based Interior Board of Land Appeals. This decision involved the leasing of land in Otero County without a valid management plan to support leasing.

    Wilderness conservation is about the long haul.Just think—the Grand Canyon was carved over tens of millions of years. With your continued support, you can count on the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance to continue the fight for wilderness in the Land of Enchantment. Thank you for being part of this journey with us.

    Other notable accomplishments this year:

    • Columbine Hondo Wilderness legislation was introduced in April and was heard at the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee hearing in November.
    • Rio Grande del Norte Wilderness legislation for Ute Mountain and San Antonio WSA passed Senate Committee earlier this year.
    • Began organizing the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act Celebration in Albuquerque, where the National Wilderness Conference and Wilderness50 Get Wild Festival will be held in October 2014. NM Wild is a co-sponsor of the event.
    • Engaged 741 volunteers (including 312 youth) for more than 5,000 volunteer hours.  Together, we restored trails, pulled invasive weeds, did wilderness outreach and inventoried thousands of acres of public lands.
    • Joined by new Executive Director Mark Allison, who brings 20 years of non-profit leadership experience to NM Wild. Also brought two other new staff members on board: Administrative Assistant Emma Tomingas-Hatch and Gila Grassroots Organizer (and former associate director) Nathan Newcomer.
    • We’re partnering with U.S. Forest Service and the Silver City Museum on an exhibition highlighting the 90th anniversary of the Gila Wilderness and 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The exhibition will run from May-October.
    • Wild Guide named a finalist in the Guidebook and Travel category at the Southwest Book Design and Production Awards.
    • This year, NM Wild staff and 35 volunteers logged 419 hours hiking Sandia Mountain Wilderness trails and arroyos, identifying and removing the invasive plant, cheatgrass.
    • On Otero Mesa, staff and volunteers followed the newly released BLM Manual 6310, Conducting Wilderness Characteristics Inventory on BLM Lands to identify and survey 29 potential units totaling 328,545 acres.
    • In Dona Ana and Sierra Counties, 14 potential BLM “Lands with Wilderness Characteristics” totaling 140,525 acres were surveyed.

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