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2014

  • By Victoria Glynn | 5.19.14
    Designation Will Preserve Military Heritage in New Mexico

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Truman National Security Project applauded the Obama administration for designating the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks of Las Cruces, New Mexico, as a national monument under the Antiquities Act.

    Truman Project Executive Director and former U.S. Army Captain Michael Breen said, “By designating the Organ Mountains as a national monument, President Obama is protecting historic public lands that contributed greatly to our military heritage.

    “During World War II, the Army Air Corps conducted trainings in and around the Organ Mountains. They helped create secret navigational technology that shortened the war in Europe, saving lives. President Obama is making the right call by preserving these important military heritage sites, while also securing our southwest border.”

  • By Victoria Glynn | 5.19.14
    Designation Will Preserve Military Heritage in New Mexico

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Truman National Security Project applauded the Obama administration for designating the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks of Las Cruces, New Mexico, as a national monument under the Antiquities Act.

    Truman Project Executive Director and former U.S. Army Captain Michael Breen said, “By designating the Organ Mountains as a national monument, President Obama is protecting historic public lands that contributed greatly to our military heritage.

    “During World War II, the Army Air Corps conducted trainings in and around the Organ Mountains. They helped create secret navigational technology that shortened the war in Europe, saving lives. President Obama is making the right call by preserving these important military heritage sites, while also securing our southwest border.”

  • By Victoria Glynn | 5.19.14
    Designation Will Preserve Military Heritage in New Mexico

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Truman National Security Project applauded the Obama administration for designating the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks of Las Cruces, New Mexico, as a national monument under the Antiquities Act.

    Truman Project Executive Director and former U.S. Army Captain Michael Breen said, “By designating the Organ Mountains as a national monument, President Obama is protecting historic public lands that contributed greatly to our military heritage.

    “During World War II, the Army Air Corps conducted trainings in and around the Organ Mountains. They helped create secret navigational technology that shortened the war in Europe, saving lives. President Obama is making the right call by preserving these important military heritage sites, while also securing our southwest border.”

  • For Immediate Release
    November 13, 2014

    TAOS, NM (November 13, 2014) – The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance (NM Wild) today applauded the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for passing the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Act (S. 776) out of Committee. The Act now awaits passage on the Senate floor. The legislation would protect 45,000 acres of incredible wildlife habitat, an important source of clean water, and a prized hunting and fishing destination.
    The clock is ticking for wilderness bills across the country. More than two dozen wilderness bills are pending in Congress, including the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Act. NM Wild is hopeful Congress moves to protect Columbine Hondo during the Lame Duck session of Congress.

    The Act was introduced by Sen. Tom Udall and co-sponsored by Sen. Martin Heinrich. Rep. Ben Ray Luján (NM-3) introduced a House companion (H.R. 1683) that is co-sponsored by Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-1).

    “I want to thank senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and representatives Ben Ray Luján and Michelle Lujan Grisham for their leadership in moving the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Act,” said Linda Calhoun, mayor of Red River. “Now it is time for Congress to follow our delegation’s lead and pass this bill into law this year.”

    Community support for safeguarding the Columbine Hondo is broad and deep. The Columbine Hondo Wilderness Coalition includes business owners, ranchers, sportsmen, Acequia parciantes, mountain bikers, elected officials, conservationists, and others who have worked together for years to preserve this natural treasure.

    “Protecting Columbine Hondo as wilderness will safeguard critical wildlife habitat loved by those who come hunt, fish, and view,” said Max Trujillo of New Mexico Wildlife Federation. “The sportsman’s way of life is a time-tested tradition in northern New Mexico, and I want to thank Senators Udall and Heinrich and Representatives Luján and Lujan Grisham for working to maintain our way of life.”

    Just north of Taos, the Columbine Hondo Wilderness Study Area (WSA) is the last remaining portion of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to be designated as wilderness. It is crowned by 13 miles of high alpine ridges and peaks that tower above 11,000 feet, including its high point, Gold Hill at 12,711 feet elevation.

    “The Columbine Hondo has sustained my family for eight generations,” said Erminio Martinez, a livestock permittee in Columbine Hondo. “It is our responsibility to the ninth, tenth, and all future generations to preserve our land and water. I want to thank our Senators and Representatives for working so hard to pass the Columbine Hondo Wilderness Act this year.”

    Columbine Hondo is home to elk, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, mountain lions, black bear, pine marten, and Rio Grande cutthroat trout. This area is a significant clean water source for the central Rio Grande Corridor of New Mexico, supplying water to two of the larger Rio Grande tributaries – the Red River and the Rio Hondo. The water safeguarded in the Columbine Hondo area supplies many Acequias used by the local agricultural community.

    “This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, and I cannot think of a better time to preserve Columbine Hondo,” said Roberta Salazar, Executive Director of Rivers & Birds. “Wilderness protection in New Mexico has always been a steadfast American value and has bipartisan support on-the-ground. It is time for Congress to act.”


    The Columbine Hondo Wilderness Coalition urges Congress to protect the Columbine Hondo as wilderness this year.

  • For Immediate Release
    November 13, 2014

    TAOS, NM (November 13, 2014) – The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance (NM Wild) today applauded the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for passing the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Act (S. 776) out of Committee. The Act now awaits passage on the Senate floor. The legislation would protect 45,000 acres of incredible wildlife habitat, an important source of clean water, and a prized hunting and fishing destination.
    The clock is ticking for wilderness bills across the country. More than two dozen wilderness bills are pending in Congress, including the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Act. NM Wild is hopeful Congress moves to protect Columbine Hondo during the Lame Duck session of Congress.

    The Act was introduced by Sen. Tom Udall and co-sponsored by Sen. Martin Heinrich. Rep. Ben Ray Luján (NM-3) introduced a House companion (H.R. 1683) that is co-sponsored by Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-1).

    “I want to thank senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and representatives Ben Ray Luján and Michelle Lujan Grisham for their leadership in moving the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Act,” said Linda Calhoun, mayor of Red River. “Now it is time for Congress to follow our delegation’s lead and pass this bill into law this year.”

    Community support for safeguarding the Columbine Hondo is broad and deep. The Columbine Hondo Wilderness Coalition includes business owners, ranchers, sportsmen, Acequia parciantes, mountain bikers, elected officials, conservationists, and others who have worked together for years to preserve this natural treasure.

    “Protecting Columbine Hondo as wilderness will safeguard critical wildlife habitat loved by those who come hunt, fish, and view,” said Max Trujillo of New Mexico Wildlife Federation. “The sportsman’s way of life is a time-tested tradition in northern New Mexico, and I want to thank Senators Udall and Heinrich and Representatives Luján and Lujan Grisham for working to maintain our way of life.”

    Just north of Taos, the Columbine Hondo Wilderness Study Area (WSA) is the last remaining portion of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to be designated as wilderness. It is crowned by 13 miles of high alpine ridges and peaks that tower above 11,000 feet, including its high point, Gold Hill at 12,711 feet elevation.

    “The Columbine Hondo has sustained my family for eight generations,” said Erminio Martinez, a livestock permittee in Columbine Hondo. “It is our responsibility to the ninth, tenth, and all future generations to preserve our land and water. I want to thank our Senators and Representatives for working so hard to pass the Columbine Hondo Wilderness Act this year.”

    Columbine Hondo is home to elk, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, mountain lions, black bear, pine marten, and Rio Grande cutthroat trout. This area is a significant clean water source for the central Rio Grande Corridor of New Mexico, supplying water to two of the larger Rio Grande tributaries – the Red River and the Rio Hondo. The water safeguarded in the Columbine Hondo area supplies many Acequias used by the local agricultural community.

    “This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, and I cannot think of a better time to preserve Columbine Hondo,” said Roberta Salazar, Executive Director of Rivers & Birds. “Wilderness protection in New Mexico has always been a steadfast American value and has bipartisan support on-the-ground. It is time for Congress to act.”


    The Columbine Hondo Wilderness Coalition urges Congress to protect the Columbine Hondo as wilderness this year.

  • For Immediate Release
    November 13, 2014

    TAOS, NM (November 13, 2014) – The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance (NM Wild) today applauded the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for passing the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Act (S. 776) out of Committee. The Act now awaits passage on the Senate floor. The legislation would protect 45,000 acres of incredible wildlife habitat, an important source of clean water, and a prized hunting and fishing destination.
    The clock is ticking for wilderness bills across the country. More than two dozen wilderness bills are pending in Congress, including the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Act. NM Wild is hopeful Congress moves to protect Columbine Hondo during the Lame Duck session of Congress.

    The Act was introduced by Sen. Tom Udall and co-sponsored by Sen. Martin Heinrich. Rep. Ben Ray Luján (NM-3) introduced a House companion (H.R. 1683) that is co-sponsored by Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-1).

    “I want to thank senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and representatives Ben Ray Luján and Michelle Lujan Grisham for their leadership in moving the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Act,” said Linda Calhoun, mayor of Red River. “Now it is time for Congress to follow our delegation’s lead and pass this bill into law this year.”

    Community support for safeguarding the Columbine Hondo is broad and deep. The Columbine Hondo Wilderness Coalition includes business owners, ranchers, sportsmen, Acequia parciantes, mountain bikers, elected officials, conservationists, and others who have worked together for years to preserve this natural treasure.

    “Protecting Columbine Hondo as wilderness will safeguard critical wildlife habitat loved by those who come hunt, fish, and view,” said Max Trujillo of New Mexico Wildlife Federation. “The sportsman’s way of life is a time-tested tradition in northern New Mexico, and I want to thank Senators Udall and Heinrich and Representatives Luján and Lujan Grisham for working to maintain our way of life.”

    Just north of Taos, the Columbine Hondo Wilderness Study Area (WSA) is the last remaining portion of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to be designated as wilderness. It is crowned by 13 miles of high alpine ridges and peaks that tower above 11,000 feet, including its high point, Gold Hill at 12,711 feet elevation.

    “The Columbine Hondo has sustained my family for eight generations,” said Erminio Martinez, a livestock permittee in Columbine Hondo. “It is our responsibility to the ninth, tenth, and all future generations to preserve our land and water. I want to thank our Senators and Representatives for working so hard to pass the Columbine Hondo Wilderness Act this year.”

    Columbine Hondo is home to elk, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, mountain lions, black bear, pine marten, and Rio Grande cutthroat trout. This area is a significant clean water source for the central Rio Grande Corridor of New Mexico, supplying water to two of the larger Rio Grande tributaries – the Red River and the Rio Hondo. The water safeguarded in the Columbine Hondo area supplies many Acequias used by the local agricultural community.

    “This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, and I cannot think of a better time to preserve Columbine Hondo,” said Roberta Salazar, Executive Director of Rivers & Birds. “Wilderness protection in New Mexico has always been a steadfast American value and has bipartisan support on-the-ground. It is time for Congress to act.”


    The Columbine Hondo Wilderness Coalition urges Congress to protect the Columbine Hondo as wilderness this year.

  • For Immediate Release

    TAOS, NM (November 13, 2014) – The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance (NM Wild) today applauded the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for passing the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Act (S. 776) out of Committee. The Act now awaits passage on the Senate floor. The legislation would protect 45,000 acres of incredible wildlife habitat, an important source of clean water, and a prized hunting and fishing destination.
    The clock is ticking for wilderness bills across the country. More than two dozen wilderness bills are pending in Congress, including the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Act. NM Wild is hopeful Congress moves to protect Columbine Hondo during the Lame Duck session of Congress. 

    The Act was introduced by Sen. Tom Udall and co-sponsored by Sen. Martin Heinrich. Rep. Ben Ray Luján (NM-3) introduced a House companion (H.R. 1683) that is co-sponsored by Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-1). 

    “I want to thank senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and representatives Ben Ray Luján and Michelle Lujan Grisham for their leadership in moving the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Act,” said Linda Calhoun, mayor of Red River. “Now it is time for Congress to follow our delegation’s lead and pass this bill into law this year.” 

    Community support for safeguarding the Columbine Hondo is broad and deep. The Columbine Hondo Wilderness Coalition includes business owners, ranchers, sportsmen, Acequia parciantes, mountain bikers, elected officials, conservationists, and others who have worked together for years to preserve this natural treasure. 

    “Protecting Columbine Hondo as wilderness will safeguard critical wildlife habitat loved by those who come hunt, fish, and view,” said Max Trujillo of New Mexico Wildlife Federation. “The sportsman’s way of life is a time-tested tradition in northern New Mexico, and I want to thank Senators Udall and Heinrich and Representatives Luján and Lujan Grisham for working to maintain our way of life.” 

    Just north of Taos, the Columbine Hondo Wilderness Study Area (WSA) is the last remaining portion of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to be designated as wilderness. It is crowned by 13 miles of high alpine ridges and peaks that tower above 11,000 feet, including its high point, Gold Hill at 12,711 feet elevation. 

    “The Columbine Hondo has sustained my family for eight generations,” said Erminio Martinez, a livestock permittee in Columbine Hondo. “It is our responsibility to the ninth, tenth, and all future generations to preserve our land and water. I want to thank our Senators and Representatives for working so hard to pass the Columbine Hondo Wilderness Act this year.”

    Columbine Hondo is home to elk, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, mountain lions, black bear, pine marten, and Rio Grande cutthroat trout. This area is a significant clean water source for the central Rio Grande Corridor of New Mexico, supplying water to two of the larger Rio Grande tributaries – the Red River and the Rio Hondo. The water safeguarded in the Columbine Hondo area supplies many Acequias used by the local agricultural community. 

    “This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, and I cannot think of a better time to preserve Columbine Hondo,” said Roberta Salazar, Executive Director of Rivers & Birds. “Wilderness protection in New Mexico has always been a steadfast American value and has bipartisan support on-the-ground. It is time for Congress to act.”
    The Columbine Hondo Wilderness Coalition urges Congress to protect the Columbine Hondo as wilderness this year.

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  • By Virginia Cramer for the Las Cruces Sun-News

    Guest column

    Posted:   08/30/2014 05:04:17 PM MDT

    On Sept. 3, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law one of our country’s greatest conservation laws, the Wilderness Act. This historic bill established the National Wilderness Preservation System and set aside an initial 9.1 million acres of wildlands for the use and enjoyment of the American people. Over the past 50 years, and as a result of America’s support for wilderness, Congress has added nearly 100 million more acres to this unique land preservation system — including more than 1.6 million acres and 25 wilderness areas in New Mexico.

    The 1964 Wilderness Act defines “wilderness” as areas “where the earth and its community of life … appear to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man’s work substantially unnoticeable …” Today, these wildlands are among the last repositories of nature’s bounty. Worthy and valuable in their own right, they also provide natural services that are essential to the health of American communities. Wildlands and natural systems filter the air we breathe and the water we drink; they generate fertile soils, control pests that destroy crops, provide habitat for wildlife, sequester carbon pollution and control floods.

    They also contribute to the multibillion dollar outdoor recreation economy and provide important opportunities for people from all backgrounds to reconnect with nature and with each other.Time spent in nature, whether at the ends of the earth or a local park, is an opportunity to know, and feel, the value of wilderness. America’s wilderness is a living legacy that all Americans should have the opportunity to experience.

    Looking to the next 50 years it’s important to carry on that legacy by continuing to permanently protect special places.

    On the anniversary of the Wilderness Act, please use your voice not only to celebrate America’s wild places, but also to advocate for the protection of wilderness in New Mexico’s Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and the Carson National Forest.

    Earlier this year, the community celebrated the designation of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks as a national monument when President Obama used his authority under the Antiquities Act to protect nearly 500,000 acres of this special place. The Organ Mountains tower 9,000 feet tall just east of Las Cruces and support wildlife and historical national treasures that draw tourists from around the world. But there are still 241,000 acres of wilderness in the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks area that need to be protected despite the monument designation — including more mountains, more wildlife habitats, and more destinations for outdoors enthusiasts.

    Sens. Tom Udall, D-NM, and Martin Heinrich, D-NM, and Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-NM, have also introduced legislation to protect 45,000 acres of wilderness north of Taos in the Carson National Forest, the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Act (H.R. 1683/S. 776). The area encompasses the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, including Gold Hill, its highest peak and is home to elk, mountain lion, black bear, pine marten, and Rio Grande cutthroat trout. It also contains the headwaters for two rivers that supply water to the Acequias used by the local community.

    Please support the wilderness designation of these areas and more — for the benefit of New Mexico, the United States, and future generations.

    Virginia Cramer is senior press secretary of the Sierra Club.

     

  • By Virginia Cramer for the Las Cruces Sun-News

    Guest column

    Posted:   08/30/2014 05:04:17 PM MDT

    On Sept. 3, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law one of our country’s greatest conservation laws, the Wilderness Act. This historic bill established the National Wilderness Preservation System and set aside an initial 9.1 million acres of wildlands for the use and enjoyment of the American people. Over the past 50 years, and as a result of America’s support for wilderness, Congress has added nearly 100 million more acres to this unique land preservation system — including more than 1.6 million acres and 25 wilderness areas in New Mexico.

    The 1964 Wilderness Act defines “wilderness” as areas “where the earth and its community of life … appear to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man’s work substantially unnoticeable …” Today, these wildlands are among the last repositories of nature’s bounty. Worthy and valuable in their own right, they also provide natural services that are essential to the health of American communities. Wildlands and natural systems filter the air we breathe and the water we drink; they generate fertile soils, control pests that destroy crops, provide habitat for wildlife, sequester carbon pollution and control floods.

    They also contribute to the multibillion dollar outdoor recreation economy and provide important opportunities for people from all backgrounds to reconnect with nature and with each other.Time spent in nature, whether at the ends of the earth or a local park, is an opportunity to know, and feel, the value of wilderness. America’s wilderness is a living legacy that all Americans should have the opportunity to experience.

    Looking to the next 50 years it’s important to carry on that legacy by continuing to permanently protect special places.

    On the anniversary of the Wilderness Act, please use your voice not only to celebrate America’s wild places, but also to advocate for the protection of wilderness in New Mexico’s Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and the Carson National Forest.

    Earlier this year, the community celebrated the designation of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks as a national monument when President Obama used his authority under the Antiquities Act to protect nearly 500,000 acres of this special place. The Organ Mountains tower 9,000 feet tall just east of Las Cruces and support wildlife and historical national treasures that draw tourists from around the world. But there are still 241,000 acres of wilderness in the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks area that need to be protected despite the monument designation — including more mountains, more wildlife habitats, and more destinations for outdoors enthusiasts.

    Sens. Tom Udall, D-NM, and Martin Heinrich, D-NM, and Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-NM, have also introduced legislation to protect 45,000 acres of wilderness north of Taos in the Carson National Forest, the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Act (H.R. 1683/S. 776). The area encompasses the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, including Gold Hill, its highest peak and is home to elk, mountain lion, black bear, pine marten, and Rio Grande cutthroat trout. It also contains the headwaters for two rivers that supply water to the Acequias used by the local community.

    Please support the wilderness designation of these areas and more — for the benefit of New Mexico, the United States, and future generations.

    Virginia Cramer is senior press secretary of the Sierra Club.

     

  • By Virginia Cramer for the Las Cruces Sun-News

    Guest column

    Posted:   08/30/2014 05:04:17 PM MDT

    On Sept. 3, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law one of our country’s greatest conservation laws, the Wilderness Act. This historic bill established the National Wilderness Preservation System and set aside an initial 9.1 million acres of wildlands for the use and enjoyment of the American people. Over the past 50 years, and as a result of America’s support for wilderness, Congress has added nearly 100 million more acres to this unique land preservation system — including more than 1.6 million acres and 25 wilderness areas in New Mexico.

    The 1964 Wilderness Act defines “wilderness” as areas “where the earth and its community of life … appear to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man’s work substantially unnoticeable …” Today, these wildlands are among the last repositories of nature’s bounty. Worthy and valuable in their own right, they also provide natural services that are essential to the health of American communities. Wildlands and natural systems filter the air we breathe and the water we drink; they generate fertile soils, control pests that destroy crops, provide habitat for wildlife, sequester carbon pollution and control floods.

    They also contribute to the multibillion dollar outdoor recreation economy and provide important opportunities for people from all backgrounds to reconnect with nature and with each other.Time spent in nature, whether at the ends of the earth or a local park, is an opportunity to know, and feel, the value of wilderness. America’s wilderness is a living legacy that all Americans should have the opportunity to experience.

    Looking to the next 50 years it’s important to carry on that legacy by continuing to permanently protect special places.

    On the anniversary of the Wilderness Act, please use your voice not only to celebrate America’s wild places, but also to advocate for the protection of wilderness in New Mexico’s Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and the Carson National Forest.

    Earlier this year, the community celebrated the designation of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks as a national monument when President Obama used his authority under the Antiquities Act to protect nearly 500,000 acres of this special place. The Organ Mountains tower 9,000 feet tall just east of Las Cruces and support wildlife and historical national treasures that draw tourists from around the world. But there are still 241,000 acres of wilderness in the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks area that need to be protected despite the monument designation — including more mountains, more wildlife habitats, and more destinations for outdoors enthusiasts.

    Sens. Tom Udall, D-NM, and Martin Heinrich, D-NM, and Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-NM, have also introduced legislation to protect 45,000 acres of wilderness north of Taos in the Carson National Forest, the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Act (H.R. 1683/S. 776). The area encompasses the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, including Gold Hill, its highest peak and is home to elk, mountain lion, black bear, pine marten, and Rio Grande cutthroat trout. It also contains the headwaters for two rivers that supply water to the Acequias used by the local community.

    Please support the wilderness designation of these areas and more — for the benefit of New Mexico, the United States, and future generations.

    Virginia Cramer is senior press secretary of the Sierra Club.

     

  • New Mexico Wilderness Alliance Membership Coordinator Angel Peña talks about conservation and the Hispanic/Latino community.

  • SANTA FE – A judge has cleared the way for the Interstate Stream Commission to decide on Monday whether to proceed with the Gila River diversion project.

    State District Judge Francis Mathew on Thursday dissolved a temporary restraining order in an open meetings lawsuit brought by a former ISC official who says discussions about the project have been shrouded in secrecy, violating state law.

    The ISC and a group of local governments from southwestern New Mexico told Mathew at a hearing that if he extended the restraining order, the state would miss a Dec. 31 deadline for notifying the federal government whether it wants to proceed with the project and would lose $62 million in federal funding.

    Pete Domenici Jr., a lawyer for the local governments, said that was unfair and unacceptable.

    “This is somebody trying to gut the future of southwestern New Mexico,” he told the court.

    Critics claim the project, which would divert and store water from the Gila for farms and cities, is too expensive – up to $1 billion, they say – and environmentally damaging for the relatively small amount of water it would yield.

    “The commission is finally able to get on with doing the business that it’s required to do under state law. … This case will not obstruct that,” said Amy Haas, the ISC’s acting director and general counsel, after the ruling.

    The decision will be the subject of Monday’s scheduled meeting, she said. Commission staff has already recommended the state proceed with the diversion.

    Former ISC Director Norm Gaume filed the lawsuit, alleging the agency violated the Open Meetings Act by taking a series of actions in a subcommittee that met without public notice.

    “It’s highly influential … but it’s all been done in secret,” Gaume’s lawyer, Brian Egolf, told the judge.

    The ISC denies that; attorney Keitha Leonard said the ISC’s Gila subcommittee “was not a subterfuge to get around the Open Meetings Act.”

    Gaume’s lawsuit on the underlying transparency issues remains alive; a hearing is scheduled for April. But once Mathew lifted the temporary restraining order, Gaume dropped his bid for the next step, an injunction.

    Egolf told the Journal it’s clear the commission has already decided to divert and dam the Gila.

    “Once the vote is done on Monday, there’s nothing left to restrain,” he said.

     
  • Troy Wilde, Public News Service-NM

    (04/28/14) LAS CRUCES, N.M. – Public comments on the topics of oil and gas development and lands with wilderness characteristics are needed. The federal government planning process is under way for nearly 3 million acres of public lands in southern New Mexico, and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is collecting public input as it develops a Resource Management Plan for the area.

    Judy Calman, staff attorney, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, said getting people to speak up is a critical part of the process.

    “If they made oil and gas leasing decisions without looking at wilderness resources, they could potentially harm some pretty amazing places, which we don’t want to see,” Calman said.

    Calman said her organization supports energy development on public lands, as long as it is done with equal consideration given to preserving critical areas for recreation and wildlife habitat. She added that BLM management authority includes the entire Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks area, which President Obama is considering designating as a national monument.

    Calman noted the BLM is again reviewing which lands should be protected due to wilderness value. She explained that the agency originally proposed managing less than 1,000 acres in the entire 2.8 million acre range for wilderness preservation, while the Wilderness Alliance had thus far identified nearly 500,000 acres worthy of management and protection.

    “We submitted data to the BLM for 45 units. And those 45 units were units that we thought had wilderness characteristics. I think it was about 470,000 acres,” she said.

    Calman says her group anticipates identifying several hundred thousand additional acres of land worthy of wilderness protection.

    The BLM has scheduled public meetings on this issue on Tuesday at the Willie Estrada Civic Center, Alamogordo, and on Wednesday at the Dona Ana County Government Center, Las Cruces. Both meetings start at 6 p.m.

    Information about the TriCounty Resource Management Plans and Environmental Impact Statement meetings is available at http://goo.gl/AaWA5M.

  • Posted on Dec 20, 2014
    by J.R. Logan for the Taos News

    Fresh off a victory getting Columbine/Hondo Wilderness legislation past Congress, wilderness advocates have set their sights on designating additional special protections in an area that includes about 28,000 acres of Forest Service land in southern Taos County.

    Those behind the proposal say it will continue the momentum of protecting valuable landscapes from future development while preserving longstanding traditions closely tied to the forest. But some groups, including the New Mexico Acequia Commission, have raised concerns the protections of a wilderness designation could inadvertently hurt acequia users in the area.

    The existing Pecos Wilderness Area covers 224,000 acres and spans the Carson National Forest and Santa Fe National Forest. Proponents, including the New Mexico Wildlife Federation and the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, would like to see an additional 120,000 of existing “roadless area” turned into wilderness or become a “Special Management Area.” Those acres would cover land in Taos, Mora, Rio Arriba, Santa Fe and San Miguel counties.

    The practical effect of the new designations would be to prohibit new roads, mechanized travel or resource extraction like mining. Such changes would need to be approved by Congress.

    Max Trujillo with the New Mexico Wildlife Federation told the Taos County Commission, Tuesday (Dec. 16) protecting this and other areas is key to ensuring public access to treasured areas.

    “This is ours. This is our ranch. This is our place that we all share in common,” Trujillo said.

    A resolution presented to the commission for approval states the areas around the Pecos “are prime watersheds, and in their natural condition provide many benefits including clean and abundant water supplies, clean air and superior wildlife habitat.”

    Wilderness advocates speaking before the commission also stressed the proposed designations would set in stone existing provisions that limit motorized access and prohibit woodcutting. Any grazing in the area would be allowed to continue, advocates say. They also contend maintaining watersheds improves water quality for acequia users downstream.

    But in a Nov. 18 letter to the county commission, Ralph Vigil, chairman of the New Mexico Acequia Commission, expressed “serious concerns” about the expansion of the wilderness area. “The proposal may have the unintended effect of placing additional stress on traditional users of water,” the letter reads.

    The letter asks the county commission to wait until all stakeholders — including nearby acequias — are able to have their voices heard and concerns addressed.

    At Tuesday’s meeting, at least two commissioners heeded that advice. Outgoing commissioner Larry Sánchez and commission chairman Gabe Romero both voted against the resolution supporting the wilderness. Sánchez said he couldn’t vote in favor of the resolution until the coalition got all stakeholders — including acequia users — on board. Romero voiced similar concerns.

    Commissioners Tom Blankenhorn and Dan Barrone voted in favor of the resolution. “I think it’s critical that we protect what little roadless land we have left,” Blankenhorn said.

    Because of the tie vote, the resolution didn’t pass. Outgoing commissioner Joe Mike Durán was not present.

    Those asking the commission to adopt the resolution said they are organizing meetings with acequia users with the hope of allaying their concerns and getting their support. They stressed that there is no acequia infrastructure in the lands proposed for new designations, and they insisted their intent is not to take anything from anyone.

    Advocates also said they hoped to continue building grassroots support for the new designations and have legislation drafted to be introduced in Congress next year.

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