News

2016 NM Wilderness Alliance Board Election Results

Thank you to our members who exercised your right to vote in our 2016 Board Election! Your voice is a valued component of the work we do here at New Mexico Wilderness Alliance.

Members voted to elect Todd Schulke and Roberta Salazar-Henry to new three-year terms. Following the election outcome, the Board of Directors proceeded to appoint Ken Cole and Carol Johnson to three-year terms.The Board also appointed the following slate of officers to a one-year term: Ken Cole, Chairperson; Todd Schulke, Vice Chairperson; Nancy Morton, Secretary; Ken Cole, Interim Treasurer; Roberta Salazar-Henry, Treasurer as of January 1, 2017 (or such earlier date that she can assume this responsibility.)

Congratulations to all!

Diverse coalition praises effort to preserve special lands in the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument

Legislation introduced by Sens. Udall and Heinrich would protect wilderness within the national monument

bloomingocotillosintheorganWayneSuggs

Las Cruces, New Mexico (June 10, 2016) – Sportsmen, Native Americans, business leaders, veterans, civic groups, current and former local elected officials, archaeologists, historians, and conservation organizations applauded the re-introduction of the “Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Conservation Act” (S. 3049) today. A broad coalition successfully worked to create the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, and has been advocating for wilderness protection of this area for nearly a decade.

The bill, introduced by New Mexico Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, would designate eight wilderness areas within the national monument. The proposed wilderness would give a higher level of protection to special lands within the monument. Many of the proposed wilderness areas enjoy temporary wilderness status as Wilderness Study Areas (WSA), but only Congress can designate an official wilderness area through legislation.

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. In 2014, President Obama established the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.

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. The proposed wilderness will strengthen the wildlife habitat for these species as well as protect the watersheds that they depend on.

“I want to thank Senators Udall and Heinrich for safeguarding our important hunting areas like the Sierra de Las Uvas, West Potrillos, and Robledo Mountains,” said John Cornell, President of the Doña Ana County Associated Sportsmen.

“Backcountry hunting is a time-honored tradition, and it is becoming increasingly rare in the United States. I want to be able to pass this heritage down to my children and grandchildren, and protection of our pristine wilderness areas will forever protect this.”

A recent poll commissioned by the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce showed 78% of citizens in Doña Ana County support the protection of wilderness within the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.

“Designating the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument was an economic win for Las Cruces and Doña Ana County,” said David Crider, owner of Southwest Expeditions. “We are quickly becoming an outdoor recreation destination and a place people want to live thanks to our protected public lands. Preserving our wilderness is another important step in securing our quality of life and economic future.”

Law enforcement and Border Patrol has been unaffected in the national monument. In fact, U.S. Customs Border Protection (CBP) wrote that S. 3049 would "significantly enhance the flexibility of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to operate in this border area."

“Safeguarding wilderness within the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument would protect what makes America great,” said former State Representative and veterans advocate Nate Cote. “Our great outdoors, like the lands in Doña Ana County, symbolize what we fought to protect for future generations to enjoy.”

The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Conservation Act would designate eight wilderness areas within the national monument totaling 241,067 acres. Eighty percent of the proposed wilderness is already managed as such, including Doña Ana County’s eight wilderness study areas (WSA’s). Notably, S. 3049 removes 32,850 acres from WSA protection in the West Potrillo Mountains to expand the border buffer.

Rafael Gomez, Tribal Councilman from the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo added “Protecting wilderness within the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks will preserve rich tribal and Hispano heritage that is vital to our community across the country. The wilderness areas keep us connected to our families, traditions and the land itself.”

The wilderness areas protected would be:
Aden Lava Flow Wilderness: This area offers one of the best opportunities in the continental United States to view lava flows and the many unique shapes and structures created by them.
Broad Canyon Wilderness: This area is home to countless archeological sites and an extensive record of previous Indigenous culture habitation within the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region.
Cinder Cone Wilderness: Features an extremely high concentration of undisturbed cinder cone mountains known for their remoteness and unique wildlife habitat.
Organ Mountains Wilderness: The rugged terrain makes this one of the steepest mountain ranges in the western United States. These mountains are the picturesque backdrop to Las Cruces, and were mentioned in the earliest Spanish journals.
Potrillo Mountains Wilderness: The Potrillo Mountains Wilderness contains eight different habitat sites, all substantially intact, across its terrain. The trans-pecos shrub savanna, mesquite-acacia savanna, and grama-tobosa shrub steppe vegetation types support some of southern New Mexico’s healthiest wildlife populations. There are four known pueblo sites in the West Potrillo Mountains and Mount Riley WSA. One site is a Classic Mimbres pueblo, and there are several El Paso phase structures.
Robledo Mountains Wilderness: Named after Spanish colonist Pedro Robledo, these mountains sheltered both Billy the Kid and Geronimo in the late-19th century and include the Paleozoic Trackways National Monument.
Sierra de las Uvas Wilderness: This diverse mountain range is a hunting hot spot with wildlife habitat home to three different quail species, desert mule deer, and pronghorn antelope. Cultural riches also abound.
Whitethorn Wilderness: This area is named for the prevalent white-thorn acacia, a key year-round food source for quail and a summer food source for desert mule deer. Weathered lava houses small and large wildlife, and views stretch hundreds of miles.

To learn more about community driven effort to protect the wilderness within the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks as a national monument, visit OrganMountains.org.

 

Taos News: The truth about the 'Protect the Pecos' campaign

Printed in the Taos News, July 28, 2016

PDF of this Article

There is an unfortunate impression by some that conservationists have been unwilling to engage community stakeholders and are not being sensitive to their concerns. The truth is that there has been outreach to the Peñasco area since 2011. Based on these community conversations, we have listened and made significant changes to the proposal to honor the needs of the local communities.

Beyond these meetings, we’ve had many other conversations, lunches and coffees with residents, grazing permittees and acequia parciantes. These have focused on listening and constructive and respectful dialogue. While we have not resolved all of our differences, we have identified a number of areas of agreement. Virtually everyone has said that these areas deserve permanent protection through some type of federal legislation.

We agree that preserving traditional uses must be honored in any legislation. We are on record agreeing to the following: No acequia headgates or infrastructure will be included in the proposed boundaries; existing legal motorized routes will remain open; existing legal fuel wood collection sites will remain accessible – long term firewood management should be implemented; stipulating that the proposal is not intended to affect the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo; That the SMA include science-based forest restoration including thinning; and welcoming the idea of having the SMA be named as a cultural heritage area.

While there are some who do not recognize the Carson National Forest as public land, and even those who have expressed a desire to open these roadless areas to commercial logging, we do not agree with these positions. We also believe that doing nothing is not an option.

We are honored to have a large and growing list of pueblo, business, organizational and individual supporters. San Miguel and Santa Fe counties and the city of Santa Fe have endorsed this proposal already. Taos, Picuris, Nambe, Pojoaque and Ohkay Owingeh
pueblos are also supportive. While it may not be possible to achieve unanimous support for conserving this land, we have pledged to continue our efforts to build as much public support and understanding as possible.

A wilderness designation is the highest level of land protection in our nation and it ensures protection of our high mountain eadwaters for our desert state. Como se dice, “Agua es vida” in New Mexico. These pristine wilderness landscapes of Taos County also attract tourists from around the world which stimulates our economy.

As parciantes, fire wood cutters, a farmer and descendants of multiple generations of Hispanic ranchers from Northern New Mexico, it is our legacy to protect our cultural and natural heritage and preserving it for future generations. Make it your legacy, too.

To join our efforts or to learn more, visit protectthepecos.org. We are eager to meet with you, whether it is around a kitchen table, in a school classroom, or an acequia meeting. Let’s keep talking.

Olivas is the traditional community organizer for New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. Salazar is the executive director of Rivers & Birds. Trujillo is the sportsman organizer for New
Mexico Wildlife Federation.

Taos News: Thanks to feds working to preserve wilderness areas

Published in the Taos News, May 6, 2016

An amendment added recently to a federal energy bill would create two wilderness areas within the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.

Thank you, Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, for looking out for Northern New Mexico.

The Energy Police Modernization Act still needs to be reconciled with a House version before it can go to the president’s desk. But the amendment aims to preserve 21,420 acres as the Cerro del Yuta (Ute Mountain) and Rio San Antonio wilderness areas.

As Heinrich, who stopped by The Taos News this week, noted, Ute Mountain and the Rio Grande Gorge are two iconic sights within the monument.

Like Heinrich, we see the draw for tourists wanting to experience a high desert wilderness — and for locals who enjoy the great outdoors.

The areas are also a source of water and a refuge for wildlife.

The plan for the wilderness areas has had a great deal of buy-in from locals, just as they supported the creation of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in 2013. Many recognize the impact the monument would have on our quality of life via recreation and traditional land uses.

We only wish New Mexico Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn felt the same way.

In a story published last week in our sister paper, The New Mexican, Dunn opposed the amendment’s passage because he says it would mean a loss of nearly 1,300 acres of state trust lands.

He noted money generated through mineral leases and timber sales on state trust lands go toward funding public schools, hospitals and beneficiaries.

Dunn released this statement: “With low oil prices already impacting revenues from State Trust Lands, the designation of these new wilderness areas will only add insult to injury and further reduce revenues in support of New Mexico’s school children.”

But that argument is a ruse. These wildernesses won’t lock people out of state land, nor will they affect any income generated by his office.

Instead of spouting rhetoric and bellyaching, Dunn should be working with the federal government to swap out islands of state land that are now inside the national monument. If Dunn were truly concerned about revenue, he’d find a way to consolidate these parcels, making them more valuable for grazing leases and other uses.

Wilderness is not always the answer. There are parts of Taos County where wilderness protections are not appropriate. And we caution wilderness advocates from pushing too hard in places where wilderness lacks support.

But in these two areas of northern Taos County, wilderness makes sense. We hope they make it into the final bill so these landscapes can be preserved in perpetuity.

Now that would be priceless.

http://www.taosnews.com/opinion/article_d4cf4ecc-12ff-11e6-b923-bb0ee5867095.html

 

 

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  • Taos News: The truth about the 'Protect the Pecos' campaign (2) +

    Printed in the Taos News, July 28, 2016 PDF of this Article There is an unfortunate impression by some that Read More
  • Diverse coalition praises effort to preserve special lands in the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument +

    Legislation introduced by Sens. Udall and Heinrich would protect wilderness within the national monument Las Cruces, New Mexico (June 10, Read More
  • Wild Guide: Passport to New Mexico Wilderness +

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                         CONTACT: Tisha Broska, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.         New Mexico Wilderness Alliance releases comprehensive guide to the state’s wildlands Albuquerque, Read More
  • Taos News: Thanks to feds working to preserve wilderness areas +

    Published in the Taos News, May 6, 2016 An amendment added recently to a federal energy bill would create two Read More
  • Conservationists Intervene on Behalf of Mexican Gray Wolf Reintroduction Efforts in New Mexico +

    Download the PDF   June 6, 2016Contacts:Defenders of Wildlife: Catalina Tresky (202) 772-0253, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for Biological Diversity: Michael Robinson (575) Read More
  • Protect the Pecos Photo Contest +

    Protect the Pecos Photo Contest The contest is open May 1st through August 31st. The deadline is 5PM Mountain Time Read More
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