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Wild Guide 2008

Happy Trails and Wilderness Tales
2008 New Mexico Wilderness Alliance Wild Guide

wild guide 08

The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance has just released its “2008 Wild Guide, The Passport to New Mexico’s Great Outdoors.”

Sponsored by REI, this year’s Wild Guide is jam-packed with great hikes, volunteer service projects and Wilderness lore. Included are 48 hikes, some of which are self-guided but most are lead by the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. There are nine backpacking trips, four car-camps, and 27 volunteer service all across the state. Some of our projects venture into areas that are not normally open to the public.

Supported by more than 5,500 members, the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to the creation, protection and restoration of wilderness in New Mexico. An important part of our work remains connecting people to our wild public lands like Otero Mesa and the Valle Vidal.

Through the numerous hikes, backpacks, and Wilderness service projects we aim to build awareness and support for the protection of these special landscapes – all the while having FUN! The 2008 Wild Guide captures a wide variety of experiences while showcasing some of our states greatest wilderness resources and potentials. Additionally, there are cooking recipes, safety tips, stories written by outdoor enthusiasts, and much more.

No matter your hiking experience, there is an outing for everyone. Ranging from a strenuous twenty mile dayhike along the Sandia Crest to an easy two mile stroll, suitable for children, in the newly designated Ojito Wilderness, just an hour northwest of Albuquerque. Whether you want a three day backpack in the Pecos Wilderness, or a simple car-camp in Otero Mesa, the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance 2008 Wild Guide has an adventure waiting for you.

Happy Trails!

Copies of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance 2008 Wild Guide can be purchased for only $9.95 by calling 505-843-8696, or by picking up a copy at REI, Sportz Outdoors, and Gardener’s Guild in Albuquerque, The Travel Bug in Santa Fe or Mudd n Flood in Taos.

New Analysis Shows Deep Cuts & Staffing Vacancies at Energy, Environment and Public Lands Agencies in New Mexico

New Analysis Shows Deep Cuts & Staffing Vacancies at Energy, Environment and Public Lands Agencies in New Mexico
Agencies that protect the state’s air, land and water were cut in excess of 20% during historic levels of energy production

SANTA FE, N.M. (January 14, 2020) – Today New Mexico Wild released an analysis of budget funding for energy, environment and public lands-related agencies in the State of New Mexico showing deep cuts and staffing vacancies over the last ten years during historic levels of energy production.

The analysis, “Recovering Lost Ground: The State of Energy, Environment & Public Lands Budgets in New Mexico,” looks at agency budget appropriations dating back to FY2004 under the Richardson and Martinez administrations. It also includes recent funding increases and requests by the Lujan Grisham administration.

“State agencies tasked with protecting New Mexico’s environment and public lands have been decimated during the past decade, and deep staffing cuts and budget reductions have left the state unable to protect our air, land, and water the way it should be,” said Mark Allison, Executive Director of New Mexico Wild. “New Mexico faces daunting challenges when it comes to our environment – from the growing threat of climate change, to water scarcity, to protecting wildlife and keeping up with the rapid growth of the oil and gas industry. The current funding levels and high vacancy rates in these departments are simply unacceptable.”

Highlights of the data are included below, and the full analysis can be found here:

When adjusted for inflation, the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED)’s general fund was cut by 31.69% during the Martinez administration, and currently has a vacancy rate of 18.8%. The lack of staff severely limits the agency from protecting the state’s air, land and water qualities. According to department data, there are just 7 inspectors in charge of monitoring 7,700 air emitting sources, which breaks down to 1,100 sources per inspector.

The New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) budget was cut by 23.68% under the Martinez administration. During the same period, the budget for the Oil and Gas Conservation Division (OCD), which is responsible for overseeing oil and gas activity, was cut by 25.77%. Currently, half of all inspector/compliance officer positions in the division are vacant.

Also, under EMNRD is the State Parks Division, which saw a 13.84% cut under the Martinez administration. During this time, 72 full-time employee positions were eliminated, and the State Parks Program currently has a vacancy rate of 24 %. Furthermore, the number of interpretive programs, which educate visitors about the natural and cultural resources of the state parks, fell by more than half since FY2016. These factors, along with severe environmental conditions, have contributed to a massive decline of nearly one million visitors to New Mexico State Parks since 2016.

The Department of Game and Fish has averaged a vacancy rate of 14-22% since 2012, and in 2019 is showing a vacancy rate of 16%.

The State Land Office began 2019 with a 22% vacancy rate, which was brought down to 10% under the leadership of Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard, with support from the legislature and the Lujan Grisham administration. The office manages state trust land on 9 million acres of surface acres and 13 million mineral acres across 32 counties.

Since taking office, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s administration has requested increases for these key agencies, and legislators have responded.

For NMED, the general fund appropriation was increased by 6% from the previous year to almost $12 million. For the upcoming FY2021 budget year, NMED has requested a significant increase to more than $18 million, or 57.26% from the previous year.

If the Lujan Grisham administration request for NMED’s general fund is fully funded, and accounting for inflation, this would represent a 19.63% increase from the Martinez administration, but represent 18.29% less than the average under the Richardson administration.

For EMNRD, a 9.31% increase in the general fund was appropriated in FY2020, and an additional 12% increase was requested for FY2021.

If the Lujan Grisham administration request is fully funded, and accounting for inflation, this would represent an 8.84% increase from the Martinez administration, but 16.93% less than the average under the Richardson administration.

For the Oil & Gas Conservation Division (OCD), a 17.34% increase was appropriated in FY2020, and an additional 15.35% increase was requested for FY2021.

If the Lujan Grisham administration request is fully funded, and accounting for inflation, this would represent an 77.23% increase from the Martinez administration, and a 31.56% increase from the Richardson administration.

For the State Parks Division, a 7.35% increase was appropriated in FY2020, and an additional 13.19% increase was requested for FY2021. Importantly, this request would help fund a full-time position dedicated to managing grants under the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund program (LWCF), which provides millions of dollars to states for conservation programs. Since 2008, management has been roughly 10% of one full-time staff, which has prevented the state from adequately leveraging the program and meeting compliance standards. If the legislature meets the administration’s request for funding, a dedicated full-time staff position could result in a significant increase in federal funding for the New Mexico State Parks system.

For the Department of Game & Fish, which is considered an “enterprise agency” that operates on the revenue it generates from hunting and fishing licenses and federal funding, the Lujan Grisham administration is requesting a special appropriation of $500,00 for management of threatened and endangered species. If enacted, this would be the first legislative appropriation from the general fund in more than 10 years.

“It’s going to take several years to make these agencies whole again, but Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is showing much-needed leadership in her first two years in office,” added Allison. “While some of the requests are modest, legislators must respond by fully supporting her request to increase funding levels for these key agencies to put New Mexico back on a path of environmental sustainability, protect public health and safety, and provide proper stewardship of our natural resources.”

The agencies included in the analysis are the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) - including its Oil and Gas Conservation Division (OCD) and State Parks Division – as well as the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED). Staffing levels for the State Land Office and Department of Game and Fish, which don’t receive general fund appropriations, were also included.

Sources for the report come from publicly available data from the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee, General Appropriations Act (GAA) documents, department/agency sources and the New Mexico Sunshine Portal.

New Mexico Wild Celebrates Introduction of Legislation to Establish New Wilderness Area in Rio Grande del Norte National Monument

New Mexico Wild Celebrates Introduction of Legislation to Establish New Wilderness Area in Rio Grande del Norte National Monument

Bill to designate over 13,000 acres as Cerro de la Olla Wilderness

ALBUQUERQUE (January 28, 2020) – New Mexico Wild today is celebrating legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) that would establish the Cerro de la Olla Wilderness Area within the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in northern New Mexico. The legislation would designate approximately 13,103 acres of land within the monument as new wilderness to be known as Cerro de la Olla – which loosely translates to “Pot Mountain” in English.

“From discovered prehistoric artifacts, we know that humans have visited and used Cerro de la Olla for thousands of years. Today, New Mexicans and others visit this rugged mountain to enjoy solitude and expansive vistas, to recreate, and to appreciate its natural splendor,” said Mark Allison, Executive Director of New Mexico Wild. “This bill recognizes the importance of saving this special place for tomorrow’s visitors, human and wildlife alike, that they may have the same opportunities that we are fortunate enough to have today. Senators Heinrich and Udall know the value of ‘Pot Mountain’ personally, and so do we. We thank him for his continued foresight.”

“Cerro de la Olla towers over the Taos Plateau and the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. Much like Ute Mountain—protected as wilderness last year—Cerro de la Olla is also a shield volcano with upper elevations that offer solitude and unparalleled views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the East, the San Juan Mountains to the West, and the Rio Grande Gorge down below,” said Senator Martin Heinrich. “These mountains serve as an important wildlife corridor and provide security habitat for species such as elk, mule deer, black bears, and mountain lions. I’m proud to join the community to introduce legislation to designate Cerro de la Olla as wilderness to ensure this outdoor treasure is there for future generations.”

The John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, a package of federal public lands legislation, which was signed into law in March 2019, included two new wilderness areas in Taos County: the Cerro del Yuta and Rio San Antonio Wilderness Areas. New Mexico Wild and local stakeholders have been advocating to also permanently protect Cerro de la Olla as wilderness for years, but the legislation was unfortunately unable to make it into last year’s public lands package. The bill Senators Heinrich and Udall introduced today recognizes and corrects this omission.

The bill enjoys overwhelming community support, including from Taos County, Taos, Questa, Red River, Taos Pueblo, ranchers, sportsmen, veterans groups, and conservation organizations, among others.

The late community and conservation champion (and former New Mexico Wild board member) Esther Garcia, representing the San Antonio de Rio Colorado Land Grant, was a proponent and we think she would be especially pleased by the introduction of this bill. 

The full text of the legislation is available here.

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Garrett Veneklasen joins New Mexico Wild

For Immediate Release             

Garrett Veneklasen joins New Mexico Wild

GVK photoALBUQUERQUE (August 30, 2019) – The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance (New Mexico Wild) is pleased to announce the selection of Garrett VeneKlasen as Northern Conservation Director.

“New Mexico is a large state with a one of a kind natural heritage that requires constant vigilance to safeguard, and Garrett is exactly the kind of advocate you want fighting for our special wild places,” said Mark Allison, Executive Director of New Mexico Wild. “Garrett is recognized throughout the state and beyond for his passionate and visionary leadership in conservation and we are thrilled to welcome him to the team. New Mexico’s wilderness, wildlife, and water will be in good hands with Garrett on the job.”

Garrett was a candidate in the Democratic primary for the New Mexico Commissioner of Public Lands in 2018 and then worked as a political advocacy strategist for Conservation Voters of New Mexico leading up to and during the New Mexico Legislative session. Before running for office, Garrett was Executive Director of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. He previously served as the Southwest Director of Trout Unlimited’s Sportsmen’s Conservation Project (in New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado) as well as Trout Unlimited’s New Mexico Public Lands Coordinator. Garrett also founded the New Mexico Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. Garrett has been a tireless champion for the conservation of public lands and native wildlife, fighting for everything from federal and state funding for native wildlife, stricter regulation of off highway vehicles on public lands, higher state water quality standards, stricter regulation on mineral development, to enhanced protection of threatened and endangered species. 

Garrett will be leading New Mexico Wild’s efforts on Carson and Santa Fe National Forest issues; advocating for wildlife corridors; opposition to the proposed Tererro mine near Pecos; state policy; protections for the Greater Chaco Landscape; and other place-based conservation initiatives.

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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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