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Northern New Mexicans urge federal delegation to protect Columbine Hondo: Lawmakers listen to community in coalition meeting

For Immediate Release
February 20, 2013

TAOS, NM (February 20, 2013) – Members of the northern New Mexico community gathered in Taos on Saturday at a coalition meeting to urge Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Rep. Ben Ray Luján to protect Columbine Hondo as designated Wilderness. Over two-dozen people at the meeting also thanked the delegation for re-introducing legislation to protect Rio Grande del Norte, and supported President Obama designating it as a national monument.

The meeting occurred shortly after the 112th Congress ended, which was the first Congress since 1966 to not protect a single acre of wilderness, and the first Congress since World War II to not protect a single new acre of public land as a national monument, national park or wilderness area.

There was diverse participation in the meeting, ranging from veterans, ranchers and grazing permitees, Taos Pueblo, Hispanic leaders, mountain bikers, local elected officials, business owners, sportsmen, land grant representatives, and conservationists.

The community members met to show their support for the delegation re-introducing legislation to protect Columbine-Hondo. Former Sen. Jeff Bingaman and Sen. Tom Udall introduced the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Act in the 112th Congress, and the community asked the entire delegation to introduce legislation in the House and Senate soon.

“As a livestock permittee, I realize that wilderness designations actually provide assurance that our traditional grazing rights will always be protected,” said Erminio Martinez, a livestock permittee in the Columbine Hondo Wilderness Study Area. “I am grateful that you as our Congressional leaders are willing to take this to Congress to ensure that the Columbine Hondo Wilderness is enacted so that all of our surrounding communities and future generations can enjoy and benefit from these beautiful mountains, as we have.”

Future legislation would hopefully protect the 45,000-acre Columbine Hondo Wilderness Study Area. The Columbine Hondo area north of Taos boasts some of the state’s most spectacular landscapes, encompassing the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, including Gold Hill, its highest peak. Elk, mountain lions, black bear, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, pine marten, and Rio Grande cutthroat trout make their home here. It contains the headwaters for two important rivers that supply water to the acequias used by the community.

“The wilderness experience while hunting or fishing provides an experience that has no rival,” said Max Trujillo of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. “Protecting these areas will ensure that our fish and wildlife resources along with this excellent habitat will naturally exist, and future generations of hunters and anglers will have a place to experience what will soon become a rarity in the United States. Protecting the Columbine Hondo will prove to be a welcome addition to the natural treasures of Northern New Mexico and a destination for generations of hunters and anglers.”

Congress formally recognized the wilderness values and character of the Columbine Hondo area in 1980 and gave it interim protection as a wilderness study area (WSA). Designation as wilderness is the highest form of protection, and bars any development.

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The mission of the Columbine Hondo Wilderness Coalition is to protect the land, water, values, heritage, culture, and traditions embodied in the lands and communities surrounding the Columbine Hondo Wilderness Study Area by elevating its status to full Wilderness designation.

VIEW CLOSING STATEMENTS FROM THE MEETING

2012 Limited Edition Mexican Wolf Conservation Stamp Released

For Immediate Release
March 1, 2012

2012 Limited Edition Mexican Wolf Conservation Stamp Released
Second annual commemorative stamp supports Mexican gray wolf conservation

2012 Wolf Stamp copyAlbuquerque, N.M.— February 9, 2012—The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance (NM Wild) just released its 2012 Mexican Wolf Conservation Stamp.

“The wolf stamp is designed to build support for wolves by donating directly to smaller groups or individuals that are working to make wolf recovery possible,” said NM Wild Executive Director Stephen Capra. “Our goal is wolves on the ground — healthy and vibrant. The wolf stamp is an important tool in reaching that goal.

The 4.5×5.5 inch full-color commemorative conservation stamp is similar to the Federal Duck Stamp—proceeds from the wolf stamp go into the Mexican Wolf Conservation Stamp Fund, administered by NM Wild and distributed through a grant to individuals and organizations working for Mexican gray wolf recovery. This year’s grant recipient is the Mexican conservation group, Naturalia, which recently released several Mexican gray wolves in northern Mexico.

The Mexican gray wolf is the most endangered wolf in the world, with a total population of fewer than 50 in the wild.

The 2012 stamp is the second in a series of framing-quality art prints offered to collectors. This year’s stamp was designed by artist Catherine Howell.

The stamp is available for $20 plus shipping on the NM Wild website: www.nmwild.org. To purchase a wolf stamp, go to Shop, and click Stock up on posters, wolf stamps and more!

Last year’s stamp was designed by New Mexico artist Virginia Maria Romero, with proceeds going to Elke Duerr for her wolf education and outreach efforts.

Contact:
Tina Deines
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
505-843-8696, ext. 104

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The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance is a non-profit 501(C)(3), grassroots, environmental organization dedicated to the protection, restoration, and continued enjoyment of New Mexico’s wildlands and Wilderness areas. The primary goal of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance is to ensure the protection and restoration of all remaining wild lands in New Mexico through administrative designations, federal Wilderness designation, and on-going advocacy.

Supporters back national monument status for Organ Mountains

For Immediate Release
March 20, 2012

By Steve Ramirez

http://www.lcsun-news.com/las_cruces-news/ci_20217533/supporters-back-national-monument-status-organ-mountains

LAS CRUCES — With the afternoon sun creating all kinds of hues and shadows, the Organ Mountains served as the backdrop Tuesday of a news conference of southern New Mexico leaders urging President Barack Obama to designate the mountain range as a national monument.

“It’s time to get it done, it’s time it happened,” said Billy Garrett, Doña Ana County commissioner, and retired deputy general superintendent of the Gateway National Recreation Area, in the port of New York and New Jersey.

Garrett was the master of ceremonies at the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Museum, where politicians, as well as business, education, and civic leaders, representing 175 entities, gathered to endorse the proposal. Together, they submitted a letter Tuesday to the president asking that the Organ Mountains be designated a national monument. White Sands National Monument is nearest U.S. monument to Las Cruces and the Organs.

“As historians, archeologists, geographers, and cultural preservation experts, we write to express our strong support of protecting the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region as a new Bureau of Land Management national monument,” said a portion of the consortium’s letter to Obama. “Possessing such nationally unique resources as the Butterfield Trail, Billy The Kid’s Outlaw Rock, Geronimo’s Cave, Kilbourne Hole, and Aden Lava Flow, the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region is an international treasure, characterized by unique and irreplaceable natural and cultural resources.

“We are confident that supporting the conservation of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks assets will protect our rich cultural heritage for generations to come, and be a beacon for those eager to explore one of the most beautiful and historically rich regions of the American Southwest.”

Supporters said the benefits of the designation are numerous. In addition to the preservation of historical, cultural, and natural resources, they said declaring the mountain range a national monument would also have a strong economic impact on southern New Mexico.

“We’re thrilled and excited to talk about this new protection strategy,” said Renee Frank, president of the board of directors of the Green Chamber of Commerce of Las Cruces. “It cannot be overstated just how much this new national monument would impact us. … Simply, there’s no question the Desert Peaks National Monument will create jobs. It fits with what the Green Chamber calls the “Triple Bottom line,’ it would be good for people, good for the planet, and good for prosperity.”

Mayor Ken Miyagishima said he believes in the initiative.

“What better way to promote Las Cruces and southern New Mexico than by establishing this monument,” Miyagishima said. “… This is good for the community, good for jobs, good for the environment, and good for preserving history.”

Petitioning the President

• Some southern New Mexico politicians, business owners, educators and interested residents have asked President Obama to designate the Organ Mountains as a national monument.

• They have suggested naming the proposed national monument the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.

• They said the designation would not only protect the lands at and near the mountain range east of Las Cruces, but it could also stimulate southern New Mexico’s economy.

• National monuments are protected public lands with unique characteristics that are managed to ensure their natural, historic and cultural values are protected for future generations.

Nuestra Tierra, Our Land – Our Future Highlights Hispanic Support for Land Protection

For Immediate Release
January 19, 2012

Local and statewide Hispanic leaders including a former Governor, Attorney General, and Land Commissioner joined hundreds of local citizens in calling on elected officials to protect Southern New Mexico icons including the Organ Mountains during a press conference today at the base of Tortugas Mountain (“A” Mountain). The group — Nuestra Tierra, Our LandOur Future is focused on the deep connections and history many Hispanic residents share with natural gems in Doña Ana County.

In conjunction with the press conference, the group sent letters to President Obama and members of the New Mexico congressional delegation urging immediate protection of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peak region.  You can view the letter here:  http://donaanawild.org/nuestratierra.php

The Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks region includes the Organ, Robledo, Sierra de las Uvas, and Potrillo Mountains and important areas adjacent to them. In addition to vast ecological values, these areas also include well known historical events and figures including Billy the Kid, Geronimo, Butterfield Stagecoach Trail, Gadsden Purchase international boundary, and thousands of archeological sites from earlier Native American cultures.  Much of this region is currently proposed for protection by Senators’ Bingaman and Udall in the Organ Mountains – Doña Ana County Conservation and Protection Act, S. 1024, which was introduced in the U.S. Senate in 2011.  The Act would protect nearly 400,000 acres of public land in Doña Ana County, by designating 271,050 acres as wilderness and creating a 109,600-acre National Conservation Area around the Organ and Doña Ana Mountains and parts of Broad Canyon

“In a time when so many Hispanics and Hispanic business owners are struggling to find work, we have an incredible opportunity right now to give our region a significant long term economic boost by protecting the Organ Mountains and other treasures in our area. I am honored to join others in calling for the permanent protection of these natural areas now, for our people and for our economy,” said Hispano Chamber of Commerce de Las Cruces President John Muñoz.

“As a former Attorney General for New Mexico I have seen many parts of this great state and country,” said former two term New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid. “Without question, the Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks region has some of the most breathtaking vistas in all the southwest. It is up to our generation to protect these incredible lands as both the key to celebrate our history, as well as a birthright of future generations.”

“Los Organos—the Organs, have been an essential part of Hispano culture in this valley for hundreds of years,” said former state representative J. Paul Taylor. “They were a landmark for travelers on the Camino Real, and a consistent source of food, shelter, and materials for local residents. Now, they are more important than ever as we teach our youth the values of stewardship and care that other generations have learned in their shadow.”

“Having grown up in Vado and being involved deeply in my community, I believe we are entrusted with caring for these lands and celebrating our connection to them,” commented Sarah Nolan, Executive Director of CAFÉ, a faith based community organization. “We must pass along pristine places like the Organ and Sierra de las Uvas Mountains for future generations to experience and enjoy.”

“Hunting traditions in places like the Potrillo Mountains are a critical part of the life and traditions of New Mexican sportsmen,” added Ray Trejo, president of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation and a Deming resident. “We are proud  to join with the diverse group of citizens who are calling for the protection of these and other key landmarks, that are so important to Hispanic sportsmen, and all sportsmen.”

Several speakers featured at the press conference also made video testimonials calling on Congress and President Obama to protect the Organ Mountains. You can view the videos here: http://donaanawild.org/nuestratierra.php

To speak with one of the press conference participants or a letter signatory, please contact

Nathan Small, (575) 496-9540, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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