2014

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    The Wilderness Act turns 50 this week, marking the anniversary of the preservation of some of our most treasured national lands. Passed in 1964, the Wilderness Act established the National Wilderness Preservation System and created the first official wilderness areas.

    When it was signed into law by President Johnson, the act designated 54 places spanning some 9.1 million acres as wilderness areas. Today there are more than 750 areas covering nearly 110 million acres.

    Outings and events are being planned all across the country this week and beyond, and the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History is showcasing a special photography exhibit, “Wilderness Forever: 50 Years of Protecting America’s Wild Places.”

    To celebrate our nation’s wilderness areas, here are 10 reasons why we need wilderness areas.

    1. “We need the tonic of wildness… At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” – Henry David Thoreau, author and naturalist.

    o BOUNDARY WATERS CANOE WILDERNESS 900Wine Lake, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota. (Photo: Brian Pittman/Flickr)

    2. “Wilderness is a resource which can shrink but not grow… the creation of new wilderness in the full sense of the word is impossible.” – Aldo Leopold, author, ecologist and co-founder of The Wilderness Society

    o WILDERNESS AREA 900Alpine Lake trail in Sawtooth Wilderness, Idaho. (Photo: Miguel Vieira/Flickr)

    3. “If you know wilderness in the way that you know love, you would be unwilling to let it go. … This is the story of our past and it will be the story of our future.” – Terry Tempest Williams, author and activist

    o WILDERNESS AREA 900 1Horses in the Steens Mountain Wilderness, Oregon. (Photo: BLMOregon/Flickr)

    4. “We have a profound fundamental need for areas of wilderness… within which we stand without our mechanisms that make us immediate masters over our environment.” – Howard Zahniser, activist and principal author of the Wilderness Act

    o MAROON BELLS 900Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, Colorado (Photo: John Fowler/Flickr)

    5. “Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit.” – Edward Abbey, author and activist

    o LABARGE CREEK 900LaBarge Creek from Boulder Canyon Trail, Superstition Wilderness, California. (Photo: Al_HikesAZ/Flickr)

    6. “There is just one hope of repulsing the tyrannical ambition of civilization to conquer every niche on the whole earth. That hope is the organization of spirited people who will fight for the freedom of the wilderness.” – Bob Marshall, forester and co-founder of The Wilderness Society

    o BOB MARSHALL WILDERNESS COMPLEX 900Webb Lake Ranger Station, Scapegoat Wilderness, Montana. (Photo: fsnorthernregion/Flickr)

    7. “Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife are in fact plans to protect man.” – Stewart Udall, politician and Secretary of the Interior, 1961-1969

    o FALL COLORS DESOLATION WILDERNESS 900Desolation Wilderness, California. (Photo: Abby Swann/Flickr)

    8. “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.” – John Muir, author and founder of the Sierra Club

    o PIONEER BASIN 900Pioneer Basin, John Muir Wilderness, California. (Photo: Tom Hilton/Flickr)

    9. “Wilderness is not only a condition of nature, but a state of mind and mood and heart.” – Ansel Adams, nature photographer and environmental advocate

    o ANSEL ADAMS WILDERNESS MINARETS 900Iceburg Lake, Ansel Adams Wilderness, California. (Photo: Ken-ichi Ueda/Flickr)

    10. “Wilderness to the people of America is a spiritual necessity, an antidote to the high pressure of modern life, a means of regaining serenity and equilibrium.” – Sigurd Olson, author and environmentalist
    o WRANGELLSAINT ELIAS WILDERNESS 900

    Wrangell-Saint Elias Wilderness, Alaska. (Photo: Margaret Olson/Flickr)

  • Contacts:  Tom Buckley, (505) 248-6455, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Lynda Lambert (623) 236-7203 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Jeff Humphrey, 602-242-0210 ext. 222, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    During its annual year-end population survey, the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team (IFT) counted a minimum of 83 Mexican wolves in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico at the end of 2013.  This number demonstrates a 10% increase in the known population of Mexican wolves in the wild compared to the 2012 minimum population count of 75 wolves.

    “With a minimum of 83 wolves in the wild, the Mexican wolf population has nearly doubled in the past four years,” said Benjamin Tuggle, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southwest Regional Director.  “I’m proud of the remarkable progress that the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program and its partners have achieved in bringing the Mexican wolf back from the brink of extinction.”

    Tuggle noted that all the wolves currently within the recovery area are wild born, which indicates progress toward establishing a wild population from a captive breeding program that started with only 7 wolves.  He further noted that future releases of Mexican wolves from captivity will be necessary to address genetic issues within the wild population.  Tuggle credited the progress in expanding the wild population to the collaborative efforts between the Service and its partners in Mexican wolf recovery – the Arizona Game and Fish Department, White Mountain Apache Tribe, USDA Forest Service and USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service – Wildlife Services, and several participating counties.

    “The continued growth of the Mexican wolf population demonstrates that our management actions and efforts to work with stakeholders are having a positive impact on the species. This is the third year of a greater than 10 percent increase in the wolf population, a success that is directly related to our science-based, on-the-ground management,’ said Arizona Game and Fish Department Director Larry Voyles. “Equally important to the population’s growth is the fact that now 100 percent of the Mexican wolves in Arizona and New Mexico are wild-born, which is a factor that we have always considered an important milestone along the way to recovery.”

    The results of the surveys reflect the end-of-year minimum population for 2013.  Results come from population data collected on the ground by the IFT from November through December of 2013, as well as data collected from an aerial survey conducted in January 2014.  This number is considered a minimum number of Mexican wolves known to exist in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area, as other non-collared wolves may be present in the recovery area, but were not located during the survey period.

    The aerial survey was conducted by a fixed-wing aircraft and helicopter.  Biologists used radio-telemetry and actual sightings of wolves to help determine the count.  The results from the aerial survey, coupled with the ground survey conducted by the IFT, confirmed that there are a minimum of 46 wolves in New Mexico and 37 wolves in Arizona.  The survey indicated that at least 7 of the 15 known packs produced pups with 5 of these pairs meeting the federal definition of a breeding pair at year’s end.

    Pups born in the summer must survive to December 31 to be counted as part of the Mexican wolf population. The 2013 minimum population count includes 17 wild-born pups that survived through the end of the year.  This is also considered a minimum known number since it might not reflect pups surviving but not documented. This marks the twelfth consecutive year in which wild born wolves bred and raised pups in the wild.

  • Contacts:  Tom Buckley, (505) 248-6455, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Lynda Lambert (623) 236-7203 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Jeff Humphrey, 602-242-0210 ext. 222, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    During its annual year-end population survey, the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team (IFT) counted a minimum of 83 Mexican wolves in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico at the end of 2013.  This number demonstrates a 10% increase in the known population of Mexican wolves in the wild compared to the 2012 minimum population count of 75 wolves.

    “With a minimum of 83 wolves in the wild, the Mexican wolf population has nearly doubled in the past four years,” said Benjamin Tuggle, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southwest Regional Director.  “I’m proud of the remarkable progress that the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program and its partners have achieved in bringing the Mexican wolf back from the brink of extinction.”

    Tuggle noted that all the wolves currently within the recovery area are wild born, which indicates progress toward establishing a wild population from a captive breeding program that started with only 7 wolves.  He further noted that future releases of Mexican wolves from captivity will be necessary to address genetic issues within the wild population.  Tuggle credited the progress in expanding the wild population to the collaborative efforts between the Service and its partners in Mexican wolf recovery – the Arizona Game and Fish Department, White Mountain Apache Tribe, USDA Forest Service and USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service – Wildlife Services, and several participating counties.

    “The continued growth of the Mexican wolf population demonstrates that our management actions and efforts to work with stakeholders are having a positive impact on the species. This is the third year of a greater than 10 percent increase in the wolf population, a success that is directly related to our science-based, on-the-ground management,’ said Arizona Game and Fish Department Director Larry Voyles. “Equally important to the population’s growth is the fact that now 100 percent of the Mexican wolves in Arizona and New Mexico are wild-born, which is a factor that we have always considered an important milestone along the way to recovery.”

    The results of the surveys reflect the end-of-year minimum population for 2013.  Results come from population data collected on the ground by the IFT from November through December of 2013, as well as data collected from an aerial survey conducted in January 2014.  This number is considered a minimum number of Mexican wolves known to exist in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area, as other non-collared wolves may be present in the recovery area, but were not located during the survey period.

    The aerial survey was conducted by a fixed-wing aircraft and helicopter.  Biologists used radio-telemetry and actual sightings of wolves to help determine the count.  The results from the aerial survey, coupled with the ground survey conducted by the IFT, confirmed that there are a minimum of 46 wolves in New Mexico and 37 wolves in Arizona.  The survey indicated that at least 7 of the 15 known packs produced pups with 5 of these pairs meeting the federal definition of a breeding pair at year’s end.

    Pups born in the summer must survive to December 31 to be counted as part of the Mexican wolf population. The 2013 minimum population count includes 17 wild-born pups that survived through the end of the year.  This is also considered a minimum known number since it might not reflect pups surviving but not documented. This marks the twelfth consecutive year in which wild born wolves bred and raised pups in the wild.

  • Contacts:  Tom Buckley, (505) 248-6455, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Lynda Lambert (623) 236-7203 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Jeff Humphrey, 602-242-0210 ext. 222, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    During its annual year-end population survey, the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team (IFT) counted a minimum of 83 Mexican wolves in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico at the end of 2013.  This number demonstrates a 10% increase in the known population of Mexican wolves in the wild compared to the 2012 minimum population count of 75 wolves.

    “With a minimum of 83 wolves in the wild, the Mexican wolf population has nearly doubled in the past four years,” said Benjamin Tuggle, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southwest Regional Director.  “I’m proud of the remarkable progress that the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program and its partners have achieved in bringing the Mexican wolf back from the brink of extinction.”

    Tuggle noted that all the wolves currently within the recovery area are wild born, which indicates progress toward establishing a wild population from a captive breeding program that started with only 7 wolves.  He further noted that future releases of Mexican wolves from captivity will be necessary to address genetic issues within the wild population.  Tuggle credited the progress in expanding the wild population to the collaborative efforts between the Service and its partners in Mexican wolf recovery – the Arizona Game and Fish Department, White Mountain Apache Tribe, USDA Forest Service and USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service – Wildlife Services, and several participating counties.

    “The continued growth of the Mexican wolf population demonstrates that our management actions and efforts to work with stakeholders are having a positive impact on the species. This is the third year of a greater than 10 percent increase in the wolf population, a success that is directly related to our science-based, on-the-ground management,’ said Arizona Game and Fish Department Director Larry Voyles. “Equally important to the population’s growth is the fact that now 100 percent of the Mexican wolves in Arizona and New Mexico are wild-born, which is a factor that we have always considered an important milestone along the way to recovery.”

    The results of the surveys reflect the end-of-year minimum population for 2013.  Results come from population data collected on the ground by the IFT from November through December of 2013, as well as data collected from an aerial survey conducted in January 2014.  This number is considered a minimum number of Mexican wolves known to exist in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area, as other non-collared wolves may be present in the recovery area, but were not located during the survey period.

    The aerial survey was conducted by a fixed-wing aircraft and helicopter.  Biologists used radio-telemetry and actual sightings of wolves to help determine the count.  The results from the aerial survey, coupled with the ground survey conducted by the IFT, confirmed that there are a minimum of 46 wolves in New Mexico and 37 wolves in Arizona.  The survey indicated that at least 7 of the 15 known packs produced pups with 5 of these pairs meeting the federal definition of a breeding pair at year’s end.

    Pups born in the summer must survive to December 31 to be counted as part of the Mexican wolf population. The 2013 minimum population count includes 17 wild-born pups that survived through the end of the year.  This is also considered a minimum known number since it might not reflect pups surviving but not documented. This marks the twelfth consecutive year in which wild born wolves bred and raised pups in the wild.

  • Dear Friends and Members of New Mexico Wilderness Alliance,

    I am pleased to let you know that by vote of the members, Bob Taffanelli and David Soules have
    been elected to new three-year terms on our board.They are both from Las Cruces and have been
    active for a long time in promoting the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.

    Following the election outcome, the Board of Directors proceeded to appoint Nancy Morton and Joe
    Alcock to three-year terms. Both are residents of Albuquerque and have been active board members.

    The Board also appointed Claire Cote to a one-year term. Claire resides near Questa in Northern
    New Mexico and has served very ably on the Board.

    We are very pleased to have these strong members continue on our board, and extend our thanks
    to the many of you who participated in the process.

    Yours truly,

    Ken Cole
    Chairperson

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  • April 9, 2014
    Contact: Sister Joan Brown, (505) 266-6966, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Citing the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region’s spiritual significance, historical and ecological importance, and positive impact on the southern New Mexico economy, 50 faith leaders from throughout New Mexico this week sent a letter to President Obama endorsing the plan to establish a new national monument in the area near Las Cruces.

    Signers of the letter include leaders from a broad range of faith communities including Catholic, Episcopal, Protestant, Islamic, and Jewish congregations across New Mexico.

    New Mexico’s U.S. Senators, Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, introduced the “Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Conservation Act” this past December to preserve the area and its rich historic, recreational, and environmental value.

    Their action was followed by a tour of the area by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell in January to meet with the community and gain their input on the monument proposal. President Obama has the power under the Antiquities Act to create the monument.

    Faith leaders who signed the letter, such as The Rt. Rev. Michael Vono, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande, expressed optimism about the prospects for the potential new national monument.

    “Senators Udall and Heinrich deserve our gratitude for listening to broad-based community input about the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks proposal and the need to preserve the area for future generations,” Bishop Vono said. “Our tradition views such areas as very significant for the spiritual inspiration and nourishment of people into the future. As Stewards of God’s creation, it is up to us to protect these precious places. We hope that President Obama remembers the future generations and creates a an Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.”

    The letter to the President says, in part:

    “We do not approach this subject on the ground of policy or politics. Rather, we know the sacredness of this land and the need to protect it. All of our religious traditions hold land, water, air, and wilderness as sacred and the meeting place of God or the places of Holy and numinous experiences. Places such as the Organ Mountain-Desert Peaks have been prayerful retreat and renewal places for people of all spiritual traditions throughout the ages. It is important to us to protect such places for the inspiration of future generations; for cherishing water sources and our watersheds as we move deeper into climate change; and for reverencing the Holy speaking through irreplaceable gifts of creation…

    In addition, the public lands in Doña Ana County contain many sacred sites for Native Americans. The Organ, Potrillo, Robledo, Doña Ana and Uvas Mountains are key fixtures of the entire region and national treasures that must be preserved…

    We want to ensure a heritage of place that inspires future generations and touches their souls as they face life’s challenges. May we always protect sacred places. We also realize as pastors and faith leaders that our people continue to face economic challenges and that protecting gems, such as Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region assists with local employment and economic benefits through tourism, amenity migration and service industry growth that offer sustenance to our communities during difficult economic times.”

    “The lands in the proposed monument are precious gifts from God that deserve to be protected,” said Rev. Donna McNiel, Executive Director of the New Mexico Conference of Churches. “I was honored to have the opportunity to be one of the signees of this letter letting President Obama know that the people of New Mexico want an Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.”

    Sister Joan Brown, osf, Executive Director of New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light, said that the area nurtures the spirit and carries spiritual sites which are significant throughout history.

    “When I lived and worked on the border in Sunland Park, other Catholic sisters and I went to this area for prayers and renewal time, and today there are people of various traditions that come to this region to pray, to take part in religious ceremonies and to connect with God’s natural gifts,” Franciscan Sister Brown said. “The area is also important as we face increasing devastation of land and watersheds in light of climate change. I look forward to Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks becoming a national monument soon so people into the future can enjoy God’s creation without fear of the land, water, and life being destroyed by overdevelopment and disrespect.”

    Read the entire letter.

    ###
    New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light (NMIPL) engages faith communities and individuals in caring for the earth and responding to climate change.

  • April 9, 2014
    Contact: Sister Joan Brown, (505) 266-6966, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Citing the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region’s spiritual significance, historical and ecological importance, and positive impact on the southern New Mexico economy, 50 faith leaders from throughout New Mexico this week sent a letter to President Obama endorsing the plan to establish a new national monument in the area near Las Cruces.

    Signers of the letter include leaders from a broad range of faith communities including Catholic, Episcopal, Protestant, Islamic, and Jewish congregations across New Mexico.

    New Mexico’s U.S. Senators, Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, introduced the “Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Conservation Act” this past December to preserve the area and its rich historic, recreational, and environmental value.

    Their action was followed by a tour of the area by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell in January to meet with the community and gain their input on the monument proposal. President Obama has the power under the Antiquities Act to create the monument.

    Faith leaders who signed the letter, such as The Rt. Rev. Michael Vono, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande, expressed optimism about the prospects for the potential new national monument.

    “Senators Udall and Heinrich deserve our gratitude for listening to broad-based community input about the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks proposal and the need to preserve the area for future generations,” Bishop Vono said. “Our tradition views such areas as very significant for the spiritual inspiration and nourishment of people into the future. As Stewards of God’s creation, it is up to us to protect these precious places. We hope that President Obama remembers the future generations and creates a an Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.”

    The letter to the President says, in part:

    “We do not approach this subject on the ground of policy or politics. Rather, we know the sacredness of this land and the need to protect it. All of our religious traditions hold land, water, air, and wilderness as sacred and the meeting place of God or the places of Holy and numinous experiences. Places such as the Organ Mountain-Desert Peaks have been prayerful retreat and renewal places for people of all spiritual traditions throughout the ages. It is important to us to protect such places for the inspiration of future generations; for cherishing water sources and our watersheds as we move deeper into climate change; and for reverencing the Holy speaking through irreplaceable gifts of creation…

    In addition, the public lands in Doña Ana County contain many sacred sites for Native Americans. The Organ, Potrillo, Robledo, Doña Ana and Uvas Mountains are key fixtures of the entire region and national treasures that must be preserved…

    We want to ensure a heritage of place that inspires future generations and touches their souls as they face life’s challenges. May we always protect sacred places. We also realize as pastors and faith leaders that our people continue to face economic challenges and that protecting gems, such as Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region assists with local employment and economic benefits through tourism, amenity migration and service industry growth that offer sustenance to our communities during difficult economic times.”

    “The lands in the proposed monument are precious gifts from God that deserve to be protected,” said Rev. Donna McNiel, Executive Director of the New Mexico Conference of Churches. “I was honored to have the opportunity to be one of the signees of this letter letting President Obama know that the people of New Mexico want an Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.”

    Sister Joan Brown, osf, Executive Director of New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light, said that the area nurtures the spirit and carries spiritual sites which are significant throughout history.

    “When I lived and worked on the border in Sunland Park, other Catholic sisters and I went to this area for prayers and renewal time, and today there are people of various traditions that come to this region to pray, to take part in religious ceremonies and to connect with God’s natural gifts,” Franciscan Sister Brown said. “The area is also important as we face increasing devastation of land and watersheds in light of climate change. I look forward to Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks becoming a national monument soon so people into the future can enjoy God’s creation without fear of the land, water, and life being destroyed by overdevelopment and disrespect.”

    Read the entire letter.

    ###
    New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light (NMIPL) engages faith communities and individuals in caring for the earth and responding to climate change.

  • April 9, 2014
    Contact: Sister Joan Brown, (505) 266-6966, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Citing the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region’s spiritual significance, historical and ecological importance, and positive impact on the southern New Mexico economy, 50 faith leaders from throughout New Mexico this week sent a letter to President Obama endorsing the plan to establish a new national monument in the area near Las Cruces.

    Signers of the letter include leaders from a broad range of faith communities including Catholic, Episcopal, Protestant, Islamic, and Jewish congregations across New Mexico.

    New Mexico’s U.S. Senators, Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, introduced the “Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Conservation Act” this past December to preserve the area and its rich historic, recreational, and environmental value.

    Their action was followed by a tour of the area by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell in January to meet with the community and gain their input on the monument proposal. President Obama has the power under the Antiquities Act to create the monument.

    Faith leaders who signed the letter, such as The Rt. Rev. Michael Vono, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande, expressed optimism about the prospects for the potential new national monument.

    “Senators Udall and Heinrich deserve our gratitude for listening to broad-based community input about the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks proposal and the need to preserve the area for future generations,” Bishop Vono said. “Our tradition views such areas as very significant for the spiritual inspiration and nourishment of people into the future. As Stewards of God’s creation, it is up to us to protect these precious places. We hope that President Obama remembers the future generations and creates a an Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.”

    The letter to the President says, in part:

    “We do not approach this subject on the ground of policy or politics. Rather, we know the sacredness of this land and the need to protect it. All of our religious traditions hold land, water, air, and wilderness as sacred and the meeting place of God or the places of Holy and numinous experiences. Places such as the Organ Mountain-Desert Peaks have been prayerful retreat and renewal places for people of all spiritual traditions throughout the ages. It is important to us to protect such places for the inspiration of future generations; for cherishing water sources and our watersheds as we move deeper into climate change; and for reverencing the Holy speaking through irreplaceable gifts of creation…

    In addition, the public lands in Doña Ana County contain many sacred sites for Native Americans. The Organ, Potrillo, Robledo, Doña Ana and Uvas Mountains are key fixtures of the entire region and national treasures that must be preserved…

    We want to ensure a heritage of place that inspires future generations and touches their souls as they face life’s challenges. May we always protect sacred places. We also realize as pastors and faith leaders that our people continue to face economic challenges and that protecting gems, such as Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region assists with local employment and economic benefits through tourism, amenity migration and service industry growth that offer sustenance to our communities during difficult economic times.”

    “The lands in the proposed monument are precious gifts from God that deserve to be protected,” said Rev. Donna McNiel, Executive Director of the New Mexico Conference of Churches. “I was honored to have the opportunity to be one of the signees of this letter letting President Obama know that the people of New Mexico want an Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.”

    Sister Joan Brown, osf, Executive Director of New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light, said that the area nurtures the spirit and carries spiritual sites which are significant throughout history.

    “When I lived and worked on the border in Sunland Park, other Catholic sisters and I went to this area for prayers and renewal time, and today there are people of various traditions that come to this region to pray, to take part in religious ceremonies and to connect with God’s natural gifts,” Franciscan Sister Brown said. “The area is also important as we face increasing devastation of land and watersheds in light of climate change. I look forward to Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks becoming a national monument soon so people into the future can enjoy God’s creation without fear of the land, water, and life being destroyed by overdevelopment and disrespect.”

    Read the entire letter.

    ###
    New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light (NMIPL) engages faith communities and individuals in caring for the earth and responding to climate change.

  • , The Huffington Post

    07/18/2014 

    When President Obama signed the proclamation to designate the Organ Mountains/Desert Peaks National Monument in May, it was the last stitch of a tapestry to weave together several natural sites of extraordinary beauty and cultural significance.

    The monument, located in Doña Ana County in southern New Mexico, is loaded with enchantment and historic significance, particularly for the Latino community. Just notice the Spanish names of many of these places: Sierra de las Uvas, the Robledo, Potrillo and Doña Ana mountains, and the very Sierra de los Organos (Organ Mountains), named after its resemblance to the musical instrument. Let’s call it a monumental symphony.

    For centuries, the ragged peaks of the Organs Mountains witnessed the flow of settlers traveling from Mexico to Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Taos on the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro. In the Broad Canyon there is an abundance of petroglyphs, testament of ancestral native cultures. And in the Robledo Mountains dinosaur foots prints were petrified millions of years ago.

    These natural treasures have been protected in large part due to the activism of Latino leaders.

    “Latinos have been working to protect these lands for well over a decade,” says Michael Casaus, New Mexico State Director of the Wilderness Society, who worked for the designation for almost five years himself. “From the very beginning Latino leaders took an active role in shaping the campaign and determining which lands should be protected. Without the contribution of Latino leaders and conservationists the designation would not have happened.”

    This Latino activism also ensured that the traditional uses of the land would be permitted in the monument, such as grazing, water rights, hunting, fishing and recreational activities.

    “This garnered the support of the local residents, who are mostly Latinos, and ensured that these lands will not be sold to private owners to reduce the national deficit or be turned into mining operations,” says Casaus.

    The monument is also getting Latino youth interested in their history and culture and encouraging them to stay in school.

    “I lead these kids into the monument to help me compile its cultural inventory,” says Angel Peña, research specialist of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. “We hike around the lands looking for remnants of Hispanics coming through in the 1580’s, we have found evidence of the Camino Real, as well as numerous petroglyphs and other archeological resources.”

    The monument has literally changed the lives of these kids.

    “Each expedition is a trek of discovery of their culture and past,” says Peña. “They now have a purpose in life. Many of them are interpretative rangers of the Bureau of Land Management. Here there are good jobs that will fill them with pride and satisfaction.”

    Unfortunately, there are three representatives in Washington, DC, who are adding a sour note to the music. Reps. Rob Bishop (R-UT), Steven Pearce (R-NM) and Jeff Duncan (R-SC) insist that the monument, located by the Mexican border, poses a threat to national security because it creates a gateway for illegal activity, and impedes open access to the Border Patrol and other law enforcement bodies.

    Several civic groups, on the other hand, called the representatives’ claims “false” alleging data and statements by the US Customs and Border Security that prove the opposite. The faith-based group NM CAFé, for instance, labeled the statements as “a waste of time and taxpayers’ money,” and urged these congressmen to dedicate their time to find “real solutions to the border problems,” including supporting immigration reform.

    The establishment of the monument is a brilliant idea. Too bad there are those willing to play out of tune in this monumental symphony.

    Javier Sierra is a Sierra Club columnist. Follow him on Twitter @javier_SC

  • , The Huffington Post

    07/18/2014 

    When President Obama signed the proclamation to designate the Organ Mountains/Desert Peaks National Monument in May, it was the last stitch of a tapestry to weave together several natural sites of extraordinary beauty and cultural significance.

    The monument, located in Doña Ana County in southern New Mexico, is loaded with enchantment and historic significance, particularly for the Latino community. Just notice the Spanish names of many of these places: Sierra de las Uvas, the Robledo, Potrillo and Doña Ana mountains, and the very Sierra de los Organos (Organ Mountains), named after its resemblance to the musical instrument. Let’s call it a monumental symphony.

    For centuries, the ragged peaks of the Organs Mountains witnessed the flow of settlers traveling from Mexico to Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Taos on the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro. In the Broad Canyon there is an abundance of petroglyphs, testament of ancestral native cultures. And in the Robledo Mountains dinosaur foots prints were petrified millions of years ago.

    These natural treasures have been protected in large part due to the activism of Latino leaders.

    “Latinos have been working to protect these lands for well over a decade,” says Michael Casaus, New Mexico State Director of the Wilderness Society, who worked for the designation for almost five years himself. “From the very beginning Latino leaders took an active role in shaping the campaign and determining which lands should be protected. Without the contribution of Latino leaders and conservationists the designation would not have happened.”

    This Latino activism also ensured that the traditional uses of the land would be permitted in the monument, such as grazing, water rights, hunting, fishing and recreational activities.

    “This garnered the support of the local residents, who are mostly Latinos, and ensured that these lands will not be sold to private owners to reduce the national deficit or be turned into mining operations,” says Casaus.

    The monument is also getting Latino youth interested in their history and culture and encouraging them to stay in school.

    “I lead these kids into the monument to help me compile its cultural inventory,” says Angel Peña, research specialist of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. “We hike around the lands looking for remnants of Hispanics coming through in the 1580’s, we have found evidence of the Camino Real, as well as numerous petroglyphs and other archeological resources.”

    The monument has literally changed the lives of these kids.

    “Each expedition is a trek of discovery of their culture and past,” says Peña. “They now have a purpose in life. Many of them are interpretative rangers of the Bureau of Land Management. Here there are good jobs that will fill them with pride and satisfaction.”

    Unfortunately, there are three representatives in Washington, DC, who are adding a sour note to the music. Reps. Rob Bishop (R-UT), Steven Pearce (R-NM) and Jeff Duncan (R-SC) insist that the monument, located by the Mexican border, poses a threat to national security because it creates a gateway for illegal activity, and impedes open access to the Border Patrol and other law enforcement bodies.

    Several civic groups, on the other hand, called the representatives’ claims “false” alleging data and statements by the US Customs and Border Security that prove the opposite. The faith-based group NM CAFé, for instance, labeled the statements as “a waste of time and taxpayers’ money,” and urged these congressmen to dedicate their time to find “real solutions to the border problems,” including supporting immigration reform.

    The establishment of the monument is a brilliant idea. Too bad there are those willing to play out of tune in this monumental symphony.

    Javier Sierra is a Sierra Club columnist. Follow him on Twitter @javier_SC

  • , The Huffington Post

    07/18/2014 

    When President Obama signed the proclamation to designate the Organ Mountains/Desert Peaks National Monument in May, it was the last stitch of a tapestry to weave together several natural sites of extraordinary beauty and cultural significance.

    The monument, located in Doña Ana County in southern New Mexico, is loaded with enchantment and historic significance, particularly for the Latino community. Just notice the Spanish names of many of these places: Sierra de las Uvas, the Robledo, Potrillo and Doña Ana mountains, and the very Sierra de los Organos (Organ Mountains), named after its resemblance to the musical instrument. Let’s call it a monumental symphony.

    For centuries, the ragged peaks of the Organs Mountains witnessed the flow of settlers traveling from Mexico to Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Taos on the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro. In the Broad Canyon there is an abundance of petroglyphs, testament of ancestral native cultures. And in the Robledo Mountains dinosaur foots prints were petrified millions of years ago.

    These natural treasures have been protected in large part due to the activism of Latino leaders.

    “Latinos have been working to protect these lands for well over a decade,” says Michael Casaus, New Mexico State Director of the Wilderness Society, who worked for the designation for almost five years himself. “From the very beginning Latino leaders took an active role in shaping the campaign and determining which lands should be protected. Without the contribution of Latino leaders and conservationists the designation would not have happened.”

    This Latino activism also ensured that the traditional uses of the land would be permitted in the monument, such as grazing, water rights, hunting, fishing and recreational activities.

    “This garnered the support of the local residents, who are mostly Latinos, and ensured that these lands will not be sold to private owners to reduce the national deficit or be turned into mining operations,” says Casaus.

    The monument is also getting Latino youth interested in their history and culture and encouraging them to stay in school.

    “I lead these kids into the monument to help me compile its cultural inventory,” says Angel Peña, research specialist of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. “We hike around the lands looking for remnants of Hispanics coming through in the 1580’s, we have found evidence of the Camino Real, as well as numerous petroglyphs and other archeological resources.”

    The monument has literally changed the lives of these kids.

    “Each expedition is a trek of discovery of their culture and past,” says Peña. “They now have a purpose in life. Many of them are interpretative rangers of the Bureau of Land Management. Here there are good jobs that will fill them with pride and satisfaction.”

    Unfortunately, there are three representatives in Washington, DC, who are adding a sour note to the music. Reps. Rob Bishop (R-UT), Steven Pearce (R-NM) and Jeff Duncan (R-SC) insist that the monument, located by the Mexican border, poses a threat to national security because it creates a gateway for illegal activity, and impedes open access to the Border Patrol and other law enforcement bodies.

    Several civic groups, on the other hand, called the representatives’ claims “false” alleging data and statements by the US Customs and Border Security that prove the opposite. The faith-based group NM CAFé, for instance, labeled the statements as “a waste of time and taxpayers’ money,” and urged these congressmen to dedicate their time to find “real solutions to the border problems,” including supporting immigration reform.

    The establishment of the monument is a brilliant idea. Too bad there are those willing to play out of tune in this monumental symphony.

    Javier Sierra is a Sierra Club columnist. Follow him on Twitter @javier_SC

  • This edition of NPR’s On Point with Tom Ashbrook focused on the debate over transferring public lands to states. Senator Martin Heinrich was one of the guests. Listen here.

    Also read Sen. Heinrich’s Op-Ed in the New York Times.

  • For Additional Information:
    Sam DesGeorges, 575-758-8851

    Taos, NM–The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Taos Field Office is seeking public comments on issues and concerns that should be considered during the development of a management plan for the new Río Grande del Norte National Monument (Monument), designated by Presidential Proclamation on March 25, 2013.

    The Monument Plan which is predominantly within Taos County in northern New Mexico will amend the current land use plan through the preparation of an environmental assessment. The plan will provide management direction for 242,500 acres to ensure the protection and restoration of cultural, ecological, geological, and wildlife values and their associated landscapes for which the Monument was designated. The plan will also consider opportunities for continued traditional uses of the Monument lands and resources, including wood gathering, livestock grazing, and recreation, as well as the potential for new land use authorizations such as rights-of-way to accommodate utilities transmission.

    The BLM considers opportunities for public involvement to be critical to the success of the planning process. Public scoping meetings are being planned for neighboring communities and will be announced at least 15 days in advance through the media and the BLM website at: www.blm.gov/nm/riograndedelnorte

    The BLM is asking that input be received within the 45-day scoping period ending February 18, 2014. Input may be submitted by mail to BLM Taos Field Office, Attention: Shasta Ferranto, 226 Cruz Alta Road, Taos, NM 87571; by e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; or by fax to 575-758-1620.

    For further information, contact Taos Field Office Manager Sam DesGeorges at (575) 758-8851.

  • For Additional Information:
    Sam DesGeorges, 575-758-8851

    Taos, NM–The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Taos Field Office is seeking public comments on issues and concerns that should be considered during the development of a management plan for the new Río Grande del Norte National Monument (Monument), designated by Presidential Proclamation on March 25, 2013.

    The Monument Plan which is predominantly within Taos County in northern New Mexico will amend the current land use plan through the preparation of an environmental assessment. The plan will provide management direction for 242,500 acres to ensure the protection and restoration of cultural, ecological, geological, and wildlife values and their associated landscapes for which the Monument was designated. The plan will also consider opportunities for continued traditional uses of the Monument lands and resources, including wood gathering, livestock grazing, and recreation, as well as the potential for new land use authorizations such as rights-of-way to accommodate utilities transmission.

    The BLM considers opportunities for public involvement to be critical to the success of the planning process. Public scoping meetings are being planned for neighboring communities and will be announced at least 15 days in advance through the media and the BLM website at: www.blm.gov/nm/riograndedelnorte

    The BLM is asking that input be received within the 45-day scoping period ending February 18, 2014. Input may be submitted by mail to BLM Taos Field Office, Attention: Shasta Ferranto, 226 Cruz Alta Road, Taos, NM 87571; by e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; or by fax to 575-758-1620.

    For further information, contact Taos Field Office Manager Sam DesGeorges at (575) 758-8851.

  • For Additional Information:
    Sam DesGeorges, 575-758-8851

    Taos, NM–The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Taos Field Office is seeking public comments on issues and concerns that should be considered during the development of a management plan for the new Río Grande del Norte National Monument (Monument), designated by Presidential Proclamation on March 25, 2013.

    The Monument Plan which is predominantly within Taos County in northern New Mexico will amend the current land use plan through the preparation of an environmental assessment. The plan will provide management direction for 242,500 acres to ensure the protection and restoration of cultural, ecological, geological, and wildlife values and their associated landscapes for which the Monument was designated. The plan will also consider opportunities for continued traditional uses of the Monument lands and resources, including wood gathering, livestock grazing, and recreation, as well as the potential for new land use authorizations such as rights-of-way to accommodate utilities transmission.

    The BLM considers opportunities for public involvement to be critical to the success of the planning process. Public scoping meetings are being planned for neighboring communities and will be announced at least 15 days in advance through the media and the BLM website at: www.blm.gov/nm/riograndedelnorte

    The BLM is asking that input be received within the 45-day scoping period ending February 18, 2014. Input may be submitted by mail to BLM Taos Field Office, Attention: Shasta Ferranto, 226 Cruz Alta Road, Taos, NM 87571; by e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; or by fax to 575-758-1620.

    For further information, contact Taos Field Office Manager Sam DesGeorges at (575) 758-8851.

  • May 20, 2014
    Lighthawk

    What does a WWII pilot riding in a Beechcraft Bonanza, massive bullseye targets in the desert, and a presidential order have in common? They’re all part of the newly established Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in New Mexico.

    Long before President Obama declared those 500,000 acres near Las Cruces protected, LightHawk and New Mexico Wilderness Alliance took WWII veteran Bill Greenberg over the terrain he knew so well.

    Bombardier cadets stationed at the Deming Air Base in the early 1940s honed their skills on large bulls-eyes graded into the desert floor. “Cadets had to sign an oath not to reveal the object of their training, the secret Norden bomb sight,” says LightHawk volunteer pilot Richard Hoover who flew Greenberg. “The Norden sight was a major factor in the U.S. bombing success rate in both Europe and the Pacific theater.”

    Many of these aerial targets can still be seen within the newly protected Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. Flights over these targets with the veteran pilot and several media representatives helped spread the word about the proposed Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.

    “From a campaign and education standpoint, the flights were a home run for us,” said Jeff Steinborn of NMWA. “Not only were we able to help educate our community regarding the presence of the targets, but also make a more effective case for preservation of them with our congressional leaders. The addition of flying a WW II vet over the targets who had trained on them seventy years ago, proved to also be an invaluable resource for gaining incredible coverage of the trip as well as a new messenger for preservation.”

    “I flew with no preconceived ideas of what I might see,” said reporter Steve Ramirez of the Las Cruces News, “So, the flight was very beneficial to me. It let me see things I’d never seen before. Lighthawk, and the New Mexico Wildnerness Alliance, made this pristine and remote area available to public view in a scope and scale that had never been seen before. Without [them], this wouldn’t have been possible.”

  • May 20, 2014
    Lighthawk

    What does a WWII pilot riding in a Beechcraft Bonanza, massive bullseye targets in the desert, and a presidential order have in common? They’re all part of the newly established Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in New Mexico.

    Long before President Obama declared those 500,000 acres near Las Cruces protected, LightHawk and New Mexico Wilderness Alliance took WWII veteran Bill Greenberg over the terrain he knew so well.

    Bombardier cadets stationed at the Deming Air Base in the early 1940s honed their skills on large bulls-eyes graded into the desert floor. “Cadets had to sign an oath not to reveal the object of their training, the secret Norden bomb sight,” says LightHawk volunteer pilot Richard Hoover who flew Greenberg. “The Norden sight was a major factor in the U.S. bombing success rate in both Europe and the Pacific theater.”

    Many of these aerial targets can still be seen within the newly protected Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. Flights over these targets with the veteran pilot and several media representatives helped spread the word about the proposed Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.

    “From a campaign and education standpoint, the flights were a home run for us,” said Jeff Steinborn of NMWA. “Not only were we able to help educate our community regarding the presence of the targets, but also make a more effective case for preservation of them with our congressional leaders. The addition of flying a WW II vet over the targets who had trained on them seventy years ago, proved to also be an invaluable resource for gaining incredible coverage of the trip as well as a new messenger for preservation.”

    “I flew with no preconceived ideas of what I might see,” said reporter Steve Ramirez of the Las Cruces News, “So, the flight was very beneficial to me. It let me see things I’d never seen before. Lighthawk, and the New Mexico Wildnerness Alliance, made this pristine and remote area available to public view in a scope and scale that had never been seen before. Without [them], this wouldn’t have been possible.”

  • May 20, 2014
    Lighthawk

    What does a WWII pilot riding in a Beechcraft Bonanza, massive bullseye targets in the desert, and a presidential order have in common? They’re all part of the newly established Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in New Mexico.

    Long before President Obama declared those 500,000 acres near Las Cruces protected, LightHawk and New Mexico Wilderness Alliance took WWII veteran Bill Greenberg over the terrain he knew so well.

    Bombardier cadets stationed at the Deming Air Base in the early 1940s honed their skills on large bulls-eyes graded into the desert floor. “Cadets had to sign an oath not to reveal the object of their training, the secret Norden bomb sight,” says LightHawk volunteer pilot Richard Hoover who flew Greenberg. “The Norden sight was a major factor in the U.S. bombing success rate in both Europe and the Pacific theater.”

    Many of these aerial targets can still be seen within the newly protected Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. Flights over these targets with the veteran pilot and several media representatives helped spread the word about the proposed Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.

    “From a campaign and education standpoint, the flights were a home run for us,” said Jeff Steinborn of NMWA. “Not only were we able to help educate our community regarding the presence of the targets, but also make a more effective case for preservation of them with our congressional leaders. The addition of flying a WW II vet over the targets who had trained on them seventy years ago, proved to also be an invaluable resource for gaining incredible coverage of the trip as well as a new messenger for preservation.”

    “I flew with no preconceived ideas of what I might see,” said reporter Steve Ramirez of the Las Cruces News, “So, the flight was very beneficial to me. It let me see things I’d never seen before. Lighthawk, and the New Mexico Wildnerness Alliance, made this pristine and remote area available to public view in a scope and scale that had never been seen before. Without [them], this wouldn’t have been possible.”

  • By Tania Soussan / For the Journal
    UPDATED: Thursday, August 28, 2014 at 6:06 am
    PUBLISHED: Thursday, August 28, 2014 at 12:05 am

    New Mexico is going wild this fall as it becomes the nation’s hot spot for celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act.

    From a five-day national conference in Albuquerque to an art show in Questa, a wide range of events are planned around the state to mark a half-century since President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the landmark legislation on Sept. 3, 1964, creating a system of land preservation that today includes almost 110 million acres around the country and about 1.6 million acres in New Mexico.

    Even the Isotopes will get in on the fun with a Wilderness Day on Sept. 1.

    “It’s really an opportunity to educate another generation or two about what wilderness is,” said Mark Allison, executive director of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, which is a co-host of the National Wilderness Conference.

    Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., added that he and other conservation leaders also hope the anniversary celebrations will “elevate the conversations about those places.”

    Karl Malcolm, regional wildlife ecologist for the U.S. Forest Service in the Southwest, added that he hopes the anniversary also will “highlight the increasing significance of these landscapes in a world where human pressures are mounting.”

    The National Wilderness Conference will be held Oct. 15-19 at the Hyatt Regency Albuquerque and is being billed as the first national gathering of the wilderness community in 25 years. Keynote speakers include Heinrich, author Terry Tempest Williams and oceanographer Sylvia Earle, as well as a panel with federal agency directors.

    With a $350 price tag and sessions geared to give participants tools to work on wilderness stewardship issues, the conference is geared more toward professionals and activists than the general public. There will be presentations, exhibits, field learning and skill development workshops.

    A free Get Wild festival scheduled to run from 2 to 10 p.m. on Oct. 18 on Civic Plaza promises a family-friendly, fair-like setting with archery, horse packing and backcountry cooking demonstrations as well as a climbing wall, fishing ponds and an Aldo Leopold impersonator giving the history of wilderness. Children will enjoy a Wilderness Passport Scavenger hunt with prizes and campfire chautauquas (storytellers), while adults are more likely to go for the beer garden and live music by Chat Lunatique and other groups. In addition, an exhibition featuring dozens of groups at the Convention Center will be open to the public on the morning of Oct. 18.

    The 10 th Annual Gila Ri ver Festival

    will focus this year on celebrating America’s first wilderness river. The Gila Conservation Coalition event runs Sept. 18-21. Find more info at gilaconservation.org.

    Walk f or W ilderness The Rio Grande Valley State Park Open Space will hold a three-mile walk from 10 a.m. to noon Sept. 27. Walkers of all ages will participate in a wilderness quiz and learn Leave No Trace ethics through trail-side demonstrations.

    Wilderness Thinkers in Residence Project

    The nonprofit LEAP arts project will kick off a new program during the NeoRio celebration Sept. 6 at the Bear Crossing Overlook in the new Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. An artists’ lecture by Team Biocultura will begin at 2 p.m. followed by a 6 p.m. celebration on the rim of the gorge with music and food. Look up leapsite.org for more info.

    Wildern ess Day at Isotop es Park

    Labor Day also will be a celebration of wilderness from 1 to 5 p.m. at Isotopes Park with images of all 25 of New Mexico’s wilderness areas shown on the big screen right before the 1:35 p.m. game time. A U.S. Forest Service employee will sing the national anthem and a display on the concourse will mark the anniversary. There’s even talk of a “Wilderness Wave.”

    The P eople’s Wilderness Film G ala

    New Mexico is going wild this fall as it becomes the nation’s hot spot for celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act.

    From a five-day national conference in Albuquerque to an art show in Questa, a wide range of events are planned around the state to mark a half-century since President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the landmark legislation on Sept. 3, 1964, creating a system of land preservation that today includes almost 110 million acres around the country and about 1.6 million acres in New Mexico.

    Even the Isotopes will get in on the fun with a Wilderness Day on Sept. 1.

    “It’s really an opportunity to educate another generation or two about what wilderness is,” said Mark Allison, executive director of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, which is a co-host of the National Wilderness Conference.

    Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., added that he and other conservation leaders also hope the anniversary celebrations will “elevate the conversations about those places.”

    Karl Malcolm, regional wildlife ecologist for the U.S. Forest Service in the Southwest, added that he hopes the anniversary also will “highlight the increasing significance of these landscapes in a world where human pressures are mounting.”

    The National Wilderness Conference will be held Oct. 15-19 at the Hyatt Regency Albuquerque and is being billed as the first national gathering of the wilderness community in 25 years. Keynote speakers include Heinrich, author Terry Tempest Williams and oceanographer Sylvia Earle, as well as a panel with federal agency directors.

    With a $350 price tag and sessions geared to give participants tools to work on wilderness stewardship issues, the conference is geared more toward professionals and activists than the general public. There will be presentations, exhibits, field learning and skill development workshops.

    A free Get Wild festival scheduled to run from 2 to 10 p.m. on Oct. 18 on Civic Plaza promises a family-friendly, fair-like setting with archery, horse packing and backcountry cooking demonstrations as well as a climbing wall, fishing ponds and an Aldo Leopold impersonator giving the history of wilderness. Children will enjoy a Wilderness Passport Scavenger hunt with prizes and campfire chautauquas (storytellers), while adults are more likely to go for the beer garden and live music by Chat Lunatique and other groups. In addition, an exhibition featuring dozens of groups at the Convention Center will be open to the public on the morning of Oct. 18.

    Here’s a rundown of other wilderness anniversary events:

    ⋄ Wilderness Day at Isotopes Park — Labor Day also will be a celebration of wilderness from 1 to 5 p.m. at Isotopes Park with images of all 25 of New Mexico’s wilderness areas shown on the big screen right before the 1:35 p.m. game time. A U.S. Forest Service employee will sing the national anthem and a display on the concourse will mark the anniversary. There’s even talk of a “Wilderness Wave.”

    ⋄ Walk for Wilderness — The Rio Grande Valley State Park Open Space will hold a three-mile walk from 10 a.m. to noon Sept. 27. Walkers of all ages will participate in a wilderness quiz and learn Leave No Trace ethics through trail-side demonstrations.

    ⋄ The People’s Wilderness Film Gala — Both new and old films will be screened Oct. 14 and 19 at the KiMo Theater in Downtown Albuquerque. The films will include sweeping vistas and stories of wild lands, peoples’ experiences of them and the problems facing wilderness protection.

    Here’s a rundown of other wilderness anniversary events:

    Both new and old films will be screened Oct. 14 and 19 at the KiMo Theater in Downtown Albuquerque. The films will include sweeping vistas and stories of wild lands, peoples’ experiences of them and the problems facing wilderness protection.

    ⋄ Wilderness Thinkers in Residence Project — The nonprofit LEAP arts project will kick off a new program during the NeoRio celebration Sept. 6 at the Bear Crossing Overlook in the new Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. An artists’ lecture by Team Biocultura will begin at 2 p.m. followed by a 6 p.m. celebration on the rim of the gorge with music and food. Look up leapsite.org for more info.

    ⋄ The 10th Annual Gila River Festival will focus this year on celebrating America’s first wilderness river. The Gila Conservation Coalition event runs Sept. 18-21. Find more info at gilaconservation.org

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