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New Mexico Wild celebrates creation of thirteen new wilderness areas in state

New Mexico Wild celebrates creation of thirteen new wilderness areas in state

Legislation signed today contains more than 270,000 acres of new wilderness

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (March 12, 2019) – U.S. President Donald Trump today signed a package of public lands legislation that, in part, establishes thirteen new wilderness areas in New Mexico totaling approximately 272,586 acres. Ten of the new wilderness areas are within the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument and two are within the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. The amount of new wilderness for New Mexico contained in S. 47, the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act represents the most acreage of wilderness designated in New Mexico in a single year since 1980.

“It is a historic day for New Mexicans who overwhelmingly support permanent protections for our most wild places,” said Mark Allison, Executive Director of New Mexico Wild. “This result is the culmination of decades of hard work by citizens throughout the state who have relentlessly advocated for more wilderness designations. We are fortunate to have leaders representing us in Congress who understand the importance of public lands to our communities and help push legislation like this across the finish line.”

A wilderness area designation is the highest level of protection for federal public lands. Only Congress may designate wilderness areas or change the status of existing wilderness areas. The designations that became official today bring the total amount of protected wilderness in New Mexico to approximately 1,968,184 acres.

Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich co-sponsored the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Conservation Act, which was absorbed into the public lands package that was signed into law today. The legislation includes ten wilderness areas within the national monument totaling 241,554 acres.

Legislation to safeguard the wilderness in Doña Ana County was first introduced by former Senator Jeff Bingaman in 2009 in the 111th Congress, and then again by Senators Udall and Heinrich in the 112th and 113th Congresses.

Hunting, livestock grazing, hiking, camping, horseback riding, firefighting, law enforcement activities, and border security will still be permitted in the wilderness areas. The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks contains approximately 306 bird species and 78 mammal species including golden eagles, mule deer, javelina, cougar, ring-tail cat, and quail.

A 2016 poll showed 78 percent of citizens in Doña Ana County support the protection of wilderness within the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.

Also included in the public lands package was the Cerros del Norte Conservation Act, which was also co-sponsored by Senators Udall and Heinrich, to designate the Cerro del Yuta Wilderness and the Rio San Antonio Wilderness within the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. The bill passed the Senate without amendment in December 2017. Congressman Ben Ray Lujan sponsored an identical bill in the House of Representatives, which was co-sponsored by former Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham. The original version of the legislation was first introduced by former U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman in 2009.

A poll conducted by Third Eye Strategies in 2016 found that ninety-three percent of registered voters in Taos County believe that wilderness is important to them. Ninety-five percent of those surveyed believe it is important for public lands to be preserved for future generations.

Designated in 2013, Río Grande del Norte National Monu­ment continues to enjoy overwhelming community support, including the backing of business owners, sportsmen, tribal leaders, land grant heirs, local elected officials, and grazing permittees.

During last year’s review of national monuments by the Department of Interior, New Mexico had the most comments submitted per capita of any state. Nearly ninety eight percent of the comments received for Rio Grande del Norte opposed the executive order and wanted the monument to remain as is.

The potential wilderness areas within the national monument serve as some of the world’s great avian migratory routes. They are also home to wildlife, including bear, pronghorn and elk. The new designations safeguard world-class recreation opportunities already enjoyed within the national monument, such as hiking, hunting, and fishing.

Overall, the two wilderness areas created by the Cerros del Norte Conservation Act comprise 21,540 acres of the 243,140-acre national monument northwest of Taos, New Mexico.

The public lands package also includes the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Area comprising approximately 7,242 acres and a 2,250-acre expansion of the existing Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness Area near the Four Corners region.

In addition to New Mexico’s thirteen new wilderness areas, the public lands package reauthorizes the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which has provided funding for public lands and open spaces in all 33 New Mexico counties since its creation. Congress failed to reauthorize the fund in September 2018, leading to the loss of tens of millions of dollars for America’s public lands. Senators Heinrich and Udall have been two of the fund’s most ardent supporters in the Senate.

On February 12, 2019, S. 47 passed the U.S. Senate by a voice vote of 92-8. On February 26, 2019 the package passed the U.S. House on a motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill by a count of 363-62.

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ABOUT THE NEW MEXICO WILDERNESS ALLIANCE: The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance or “New Mexico Wild” is a non-profit 501 (C)(3), independent, homegrown, grassroots, conservation organization dedicated to the protection, restoration and continued respect of New Mexico’s wildlands and Wilderness areas. With staff and thousands of supporters throughout the state, New Mexico Wild is dedicated to the rights and the value of citizen involvement in protecting increasingly rare wild places within public lands. Just as freedom is every American’s birthright so too is Wilderness.

New Mexico Wild celebrates U.S. Senate passage of new wilderness areas within Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and Rio Grande del Norte National Monuments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New Mexico Wild celebrates U.S. Senate passage of new wilderness areas within Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and Rio Grande del Norte National Monuments

Heinrich, Udall, Lujan and Lujan Grisham have sponsored legislation to create wilderness areas

Contact: Mark Allison, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Joey Keefe, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (February 12, 2019) – New Mexico Wild joined a broad coalition today in celebrating the passage of a public lands package in the U.S. Senate by voice vote that, in part, calls for the creation of thirteen new wilderness areas in New Mexico, including ten within the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument and two within the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. The roughly 270,000-plus acres of potential New Mexico wilderness that are included in the Natural Resources Management Act would mark the most acreage of wilderness designated in New Mexico in a single year since 1980 if the legislation passes the U.S. House of Representatives and is signed into law by President Donald Trump.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled that these special places are one step closer to being protected in their wild and natural states, providing New Mexicans and all Americans with ample opportunities to escape to the outdoors,” said Mark Allison, Executive Director of New Mexico Wild. “Given that New Mexico is home to the nation’s first designated wilderness area, it is gratifying to see that tradition of conservation and responsible stewardship of our public lands continue.”

Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich co-sponsored the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Conservation Act, which was included in the public lands package that passed the Senate today. The legislation would designate ten wilderness areas within the national monument totaling 241,554 acres.

Legislation to safeguard the wilderness in Doña Ana County was first introduced by former Senator Jeff Bingaman in 2009 in the 111th Congress, and then again by Senators Udall and Heinrich in the 112th and 113th Congresses.

Hunting, livestock grazing, hiking, camping, horseback riding, firefighting, law enforcement activities, and border security would continue in the wilderness areas. The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks contains approximately 306 bird species and 78 mammal species including golden eagles, mule deer, javelina, cougar, ring-tail cat, and quail.

A 2016 poll showed 78 percent of citizens in Doña Ana County support the protection of wilderness within the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.

Also included in today’s public lands package was the Cerros del Norte Conservation Act, which was also co-sponsored by Senators Udall and Heinrich, to designate the Cerro del Yuta Wilderness and the Rio San Antonio Wilderness within the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. The initial bill passed the Senate without amendment in December 2017. Congressman Ben Ray Lujan sponsored an identical bill in the House of Representatives, which was co-sponsored by former Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham.

“New Mexicans are grateful to Senators Udall and Heinrich, as well as Congressman Lujan and former Congresswoman Lujan Grisham, for their ongoing commitment to protecting the wild places that make our state a national treasure,” added Mark Allison.

A poll conducted by Third Eye Strategies in 2016 found that ninety-three percent of registered voters in Taos County believe that wilderness is important to them. Ninety-five percent of those surveyed believe it is important for public lands to be preserved for future generations.

Designated in 2013, Río Grande del Norte National Monu­ment continues to enjoy overwhelming community support, including the backing of business owners, sportsmen, tribal leaders, land grant heirs, local elected officials, and grazing permittees.

During last year’s review of national monuments by the Department of Interior, New Mexico had the most comments submitted per capita of any state. Nearly ninety eight percent of the comments received for Rio Grande del Norte opposed the executive order and wanted the monument to remain as is.

The potential wilderness areas within the national monument serve as some of the world’s great avian migratory routes. They are also home to wildlife, including bear, pronghorn and elk. The new designations would safeguard world-class recreation opportunities already enjoyed within the national monument, such as hiking, hunting, and fishing.

Overall, the two wilderness areas created by the Cerros del Norte Conservation Act would comprise 21,540 acres of the 243,140-acre national monument northwest of Taos, New Mexico.

Today’s public lands package also includes the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Area comprising approximately 7,242 acres and an 2,250-acre expansion of the existing Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness Area near the Four Corners region.

In addition to New Mexico’s thirteen new wilderness areas, the public lands package that passed today reauthorized the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which has provided funding for public lands and open spaces in all 33 New Mexico counties since its creation. Congress failed to reauthorize the fund in September 2018, leading to the loss of tens of millions of dollars for America’s public lands. Senators Heinrich and Udall have been two of the fund’s most ardent supporters in the Senate.

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ABOUT THE NEW MEXICO WILDERNESS ALLIANCE: The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance or “New Mexico Wild” is a non-profit 501 (C)(3), independent, homegrown, grassroots, conservation organization dedicated to the protection, restoration and continued respect of New Mexico’s wildlands and Wilderness areas. With staff and thousands of supporters throughout the state, New Mexico Wild is dedicated to the rights and the value of citizen involvement in protecting increasingly rare wild places within public lands. Just as freedom is every American’s birthright so too is Wilderness.

U.S. House passes public lands package containing 13 new wilderness areas in New Mexico

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

U.S. House passes public lands package containing 13 new wilderness areas in New Mexico

Legislation now heads to President Donald Trump’s desk

Contact: Mark Allison, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Joey Keefe, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (February 26, 2019) – The U.S. House of Representatives today passed a public lands package that, in part, creates thirteen new wilderness areas in New Mexico totaling more than 270,000 acres, including ten wilderness areas within the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument and two within the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. S. 47, the Natural Resources Management Act – which passed the House on a vote – contains what would be the most acreage of wilderness designated in New Mexico in a single year since 1980 if the legislation is signed into law.

“We are ecstatic that some of New Mexico’s best remaining wild places are one step closer to permanent protection so that future generations can experience the richness of our shared cultural and natural heritage” said Mark Allison, Executive Director of New Mexico Wild. “Our nation’s public lands are a great unifier, as evidenced by the overwhelming bipartisan support for this legislation in both chambers of Congress. We thank our entire Congressional delegation for their commitment to protecting the wild places New Mexicans love to explore and share with our families.”

Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich co-sponsored the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Conservation Act, which was absorbed into the public lands package that passed the House today. The legislation would designate ten wilderness areas within the national monument totaling 241,554 acres.

Legislation to safeguard the wilderness in Doña Ana County was first introduced by former Senator Jeff Bingaman in 2009 in the 111th Congress, and then again by Senators Udall and Heinrich in the 112th and 113th Congresses.

Hunting, livestock grazing, hiking, camping, horseback riding, firefighting, law enforcement activities, and border security would continue in the wilderness areas. The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks contains approximately 306 bird species and 78 mammal species including golden eagles, mule deer, javelina, cougar, ring-tail cat, and quail.

A 2016 poll showed 78 percent of citizens in Doña Ana County support the protection of wilderness within the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.

Also included in today’s public lands package was the Cerros del Norte Conservation Act, which was also co-sponsored by Senators Udall and Heinrich, to designate the Cerro del Yuta Wilderness and the Rio San Antonio Wilderness within the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. The initial bill passed the Senate without amendment in December 2017. Congressman Ben Ray Lujan sponsored an identical bill in the House of Representatives, which was co-sponsored by former Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham.

A poll conducted by Third Eye Strategies in 2016 found that ninety-three percent of registered voters in Taos County believe that wilderness is important to them. Ninety-five percent of those surveyed believe it is important for public lands to be preserved for future generations.

Designated in 2013, Río Grande del Norte National Monu­ment continues to enjoy overwhelming community support, including the backing of business owners, sportsmen, tribal leaders, land grant heirs, local elected officials, and grazing permittees.

During last year’s review of national monuments by the Department of Interior, New Mexico had the most comments submitted per capita of any state. Nearly ninety eight percent of the comments received for Rio Grande del Norte opposed the executive order and wanted the monument to remain as is.

The potential wilderness areas within the national monument serve as some of the world’s great avian migratory routes. They are also home to wildlife, including bear, pronghorn and elk. The new designations would safeguard world-class recreation opportunities already enjoyed within the national monument, such as hiking, hunting, and fishing.

Overall, the two wilderness areas created by the Cerros del Norte Conservation Act would comprise 21,540 acres of the 243,140-acre national monument northwest of Taos, New Mexico.

Today’s public lands package also includes the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Area comprising approximately 7,242 acres and a 2,250-acre expansion of the existing Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness Area near the Four Corners region.

In addition to New Mexico’s thirteen new wilderness areas, the public lands package that passed today reauthorizes the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which has provided funding for public lands and open spaces in all 33 New Mexico counties since its creation. Congress failed to reauthorize the fund in September 2018, leading to the loss of tens of millions of dollars for America’s public lands. Senators Heinrich and Udall have been two of the fund’s most ardent supporters in the Senate.

On February 12, 2019, the Natural Resources Management Act passed the U.S. Senate by a voice vote of 92-8. The legislation will become law if it is signed by President Donald Trump.

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ABOUT THE NEW MEXICO WILDERNESS ALLIANCE: The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance or “New Mexico Wild” is a non-profit 501 (C)(3), independent, homegrown, grassroots, conservation organization dedicated to the protection, restoration and continued respect of New Mexico’s wildlands and Wilderness areas. With staff and thousands of supporters throughout the state, New Mexico Wild is dedicated to the rights and the value of citizen involvement in protecting increasingly rare wild places within public lands. Just as freedom is every American’s birthright so too is Wilderness.

New Mexico Wild tells BLM to postpone oil and gas lease sales

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New Mexico Wild tells BLM to postpone oil and gas lease salesNMW Logo 20th CMYK tight crop 
Letter to agency questions whether current drilling activities are legal during shutdown

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (January 16, 2018) – New Mexico Wild is calling on the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to postpone oil and gas lease sales and the issuance of drilling permits during the federal government shutdown until appropriate environmental reviews and public comment periods resume.

In a letter to BLM State Director Tim Spisak – which was co-signed by five other organizations – New Mexico Wild says that BLM lacks the funding and staff necessary to comply with legal requirements under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to conduct mandatory environmental reviews and 30-day public comment and protest periods before approving oil and gas lease sales on public lands.

“The government may be shut down but BLM has left our public lands wide open for drilling,” said Judy Calman, Staff Attorney at New Mexico Wild. “BLM has an obligation to comply with all federally-required environmental reviews and to manage public lands sustainably. Instead, it has chosen to allow oil and gas companies to bypass regulations and accountability as it approves these sales behind closed doors.”

“Talk about adding insult to injury. Energy dominance has already curtailed public participation and public accountability in the leasing process, threatening our national parks and public lands,” said Ernie Atencio, New Mexico Senior Program Manager at the National Parks Conservation Association. “Now BLM is drawing the curtain even tighter under the pretext of a shutdown while leasing and development of our public lands continue without missing a beat.”

In the letter, New Mexico Wild raises numerous concerns about BLM’s practice of allowing oil and gas lease sales to resume during the shutdown. Some reports have implied that oil and gas companies may be paying for permit processing fees during the shutdown, which could potentially lead to conflicts of interest for BLM. Additionally, the high number of furloughed employees at BLM makes it impossible for the agency to properly consider concerns raised by the public before issuing permits and leases. The letter also raises the possibility that BLM’s current approach may jeopardize the agency’s compliance with the Antideficiency Act, which prohibits federal agencies from expending funds that exceed appropriations.

New Mexico Wild concludes the letter by requesting a phone call or in-person meeting with Director Spisak and other BLM and/or Department of Interior staff.

Other organizations co-signing the letter include the National Parks Conservation Association, New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light, the Southwest Environmental Center, Western Environmental Law Center, and The Wilderness Society.

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ABOUT THE NEW MEXICO WILDERNESS ALLIANCE: The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance or “New Mexico Wild” is a non-profit 501 (C)(3), independent, homegrown, grassroots, conservation organization dedicated to the protection, restoration and continued respect of New Mexico’s wildlands and Wilderness areas. With staff and thousands of supporters throughout the state, New Mexico Wild is dedicated to the rights and the value of citizen involvement in protecting increasingly rare wild places within public lands. Just as freedom is every American’s birthright so too is Wilderness.

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