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The Importance of Roadless Areas

Pretty soon, New Mexico’s warming weather will send us outdoors to play, to spend time with our families beneath the brilliant blue sky, and seek out opportunities to hike, bike, hunt, fish and watch the migrating birds head north for the summer.

Many of these activities will take place on our shared public lands — from our parks to monuments to recreation areas, but also within the 9 million acres of national forest lands across our state. We are blessed to have these opportunities in the wild. Now we must do all we can to ensure future generations can share in the same experiences by defending our public lands and the threats our national forests face.

We have seen vitriolic attacks on our public lands since the day President Donald Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke got to work: from the unprecedented acts of dismantling and shrinking our national monuments to ordering drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Now Congress is getting in on the action and introducing legislation to roll back protections for national forest roadless areas across the country that would leave them vulnerable to development and industrialization. While some of these attacks are on specific places, like the Tongass National Forest in Alaska, they are no less concerning and dangerous, given the potential domino effect we could see on national forest roadless areas in other parts of the country, including New Mexico.

Just as the Trump administration’s rollback of protections at Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah weakened the monument standard set out under the Antiquities Act, and just as the Interior Department’s recent land swap in Izembek National Wildlife Refuge threatens the high standard of federally designated wilderness, weakening protections for national forest roadless areas to allow for road building, logging and other industrial development is a slippery slope. Dismantling protections for roadless areas on one national forest — wrong in itself — could also put roadless areas elsewhere at risk.

The Forest Service adopted a law, commonly referred to as the Roadless Rule, more than 17 years ago to protect the host of values that unroaded, undeveloped lands bring to our national forests. National forests serve as the source of drinking water for more than 60 million Americans, and their roadless areas contain all or portions of 354 municipal watersheds.

If you recreate in our national forests, you’ve quite possibly visited a roadless area without knowing it. Protected roadless areas provide the scenic backdrop for many places, including public lands surrounding the Pecos Wilderness and parts of the Jemez mountains. Some of the best game and cold-water fish habitat in the state is within roadless areas. Jeopardizing these values would be shortsighted, and we would lose far more than we would gain.

Democratic New Mexico Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich have long championed our state’s outdoor recreation heritage and economy. In an effort to defend New Mexico public lands, our senators recently introduced legislation that would establish enduring protections for 51 national monuments across the country, including New Mexico’s Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, which are threatened by President Trump’s national monument review.

Whether it’s the Santa Fe and Carson National Forests in New Mexico or the Tongass National Forest in Alaska, these are public lands that belong to all Americans. As New Mexicans, we share ownership and responsibility for these special places. It is imperative that we draw a bright line when it comes to protecting our national forest roadless areas. An attack on one roadless area is an attack on them all. And that goes for attacks on our public lands as far away as Alaska.

These are uncertain times, but it is reassuring to know that we live in a state where we can count on our senators to stand up in support of policies and funding that reflect New Mexico’s value of public lands.

Mark Allison is executive director of New Mexico Wild.

New Mexico Wild featured in Local Flavor

"W're facing one of the most hostile enviornments for public lands". - Mark Allison, Executive Director of NM Wild

Click image below to read the full article. 

Local Flavor Cover

Candidate Forum: State Land Commissioner

Candidate Forum: State Land Commissioner

New Mexico Wild, New Mexico Wildlife Federation, Dona Ana County Associated Sportsmen, Southwest Environmental Center, and the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club are hosting a non-partisan political forum for the five candidates running for New Mexico State Land Commissioner:

Patrick Lyons, George Munoz, Stephanie Garcia Richard, Michael Lucero, Garrett VeneKlasen. 

This forum is open to the public and will be a question and answer session.
Questions will be asked by various conservation and sportsmen groups.
If you would like New Mexico Wild to ask a question, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

March 1, 2018
6:30 pm
New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum
4100 Drippings Springs Rd
Las Cruces, NM 88011

2018 Forest Plan Revision Open House Dates

The Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) will host Open Houses to give the public the opportunity to talk with Forest Service specialists about the Forest Plan under revision. 

There is no presentation or agenda for the Open Houses. They are instead an informal opportunity for you to ask questions and for us to share information about the revision of the Forest Plan, the comprehensive document that will guide management of all forest resources for 10 to 15 years.

This is a chance to share the progress made since the public meetings on Forest Plan Alternatives and Management Areas in March 2017. In previous Open Houses, table topics focused on resource areas, but the upcoming Open Houses will focus on planning topics including Alternatives, Geographic Areas, Management Areas, Monitoring, Wilderness, and Wild and Scenic Rivers. Forest Plan and District specialists will be available to answer questions on resource areas or Forest Planning more generally. Below is the Open House schedule for 2018:

  • Monday, February 26 (1:30pm-4:00pm) – Walatowa Visitor Center, 7413 NM-4, Jemez Pueblo, NM  87024
  • Tuesday, March 20 (1:30pm-4:00pm) – Santa Fe National Forest, 11 Forest Lane, Santa Fe, NM  87508
  • Monday, March 26 (1:30pm-4:00pm) – Sandoval County Fairgrounds, 37 Rodeo Rd, Cuba, NM 87013
  • Monday, April 16 (10:00am-12:00pm) – Mesa Public Library, Rooms 2 & 3, 3rd Floor, 2400 Central Ave, Los Alamos, NM 87544
  • Monday, April 16 (1:30pm-4:00pm) – Española Library, Conference Room, 313 N Paseo De Onate, Española, NM 87532
  • Monday, May 14 (9:00am-12:30pm and 1:30pm-4:00pm) Extended Open House May 14th for you to have more time and more in-depth discussions about Plan Revision topics
    • Santa Fe National Forest, 11 Forest Lane, Santa Fe, NM  87508
  • Tuesday, May 15 (1:30pm-4:00pm) – Coyote Ranger District, State Hwy 96, Drive 1707, Coyote, NM  87012
  • Wednesday, June 20 (1:30pm-4:00pm) Tentatively
    • Pecos High Sch, School Board Rm, 28 Panther Pkwy, Hwy 63 N Pecos, NM 87552
  • Thursday, July 19 (1:30pm-4:00pm) – Santa Fe NF, 11 Forest Lane, Santa Fe, NM  87508

Below is the format for all of our Open Houses:

  • There will not be a presentation or an agenda at the Open Houses. It is a casual opportunity to engage with Forest Service specialists about Forest Plan Revision.
  • You can arrive any time, stay for as little or long as you like, and can circulate among Forest Service specialists discussing various resources.
  • Open Houses are not part of a comment period so we will not be recording public comments, but specialists may take informal notes during conversations.
  • We will bring our current work to share with you and answer your questions, but we will be reviewing pre-draft material which will not be made available to the public either as a handout or on our website. This is an informal, intermediary step. We will bring handouts from previous public meetings, which are available on our website, and there will be opportunities later for public comment on draft work products.

If you have questions please call 505-438-5442, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or mail: Forest Plan Revision, Santa Fe National Forest, 11 Forest Lane, Santa Fe, NM 87508. To learn more, please visit our website:  www.fs.usda.gov/goto/santafeforestplan.

We look forward to your continued involvement.

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