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New Report: Agency Coordination Improves Border Security and Public Lands Protection

For Immediate Release
Date: October 27, 2010

Contact: Dr. Kirk Emerson, Kirk Emerson & Associates
Phone: 520-690-5970
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Contact: Lynn Scarlett, Former Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior
Phone: 805-895-7057

Contact: Ron Colburn, Former Deputy Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol
Phone: 571-217-2626

Agency Coordination Improves Border Security and Public Lands Protection

New Report Presents Case Studies, Other Examples of Successful Agency Efforts

A new research report released today documents how interagency cooperation along the U.S.-Mexico border has improved both border security and the protection of wilderness areas and wildlife refuges adjacent to the border. “Interagency Cooperation on U.S.-Mexico Border Wilderness Issues,” authored by Dr. Kirk Emerson, environmental mediator and research associate at the University of Arizona’ s School of Government and Public Policy and the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, overviews numerous successful cooperative inter-agency activities occurring along the southwestern U.S. border in wilderness and other protected areas despite challenges that can make such cooperation difficult.

The report includes six border area case studies—from Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California— and numerous other examples of successful collaboration to meet the twin goals of national security and public lands stewardship by agencies within the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security, Interior, and Agriculture, with an emphasis on U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) and federal land management agencies. The report is based on research Dr. Emerson conducted during the summer of 2010, including over 50 interviews with border security professionals, land management agencies, and border areas.

Recent media reports have emphasized—and in some cases sensationalized—the challenges of meeting these twin goals and cases where total success has been elusive. However, the reality is that, after much trial and error, cooperation among federal departments and agencies charged with protection of the border and public land management has improved and led to many successes in the past few years. This report generally corroborates the results of a recently issued GAO report on interagency cooperation that found increased collaboration among the Border Patrol and federal land management agencies.

“Close collaboration between the Border Patrol and the Department of the Interior on many stretches of the border, including wilderness areas, has improved border security while sustaining land protections and community livelihoods,” said Lynn Scarlett, former deputy secretary of the Department of the Interior under President George W. Bush.

The report provides examples of this cooperation in a variety of contexts including interagency communications, enhanced joint capacity, border security assistance by land management agencies, assistance in mitigation and restoration, and joint efforts to protect public health and safety.

“There can be no compromise in securing America against those who would do us harm. But, common sense solutions can be achieved,” said Ron Colburn, former deputy chief of the U.S. Border Patrol who worked at the agency for over 31 years. “ I believe that the collaborative process has produced and will continue to produce righteous outcomes in protecting America while also protecting our pristine wild lands.”

One of the report’ s case studies analyzes the consultative and stakeholder process behind the proposed Organ Mountains–Desert Peaks Wilderness Act (S. 1689). The provisions of this bill would create new wilderness and protected areas near the border that, according to Commissioner Alan Bersin of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, “ would significantly enhance the flexibility of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to operate in this border area.”

Dr. Kirk Emerson is also the former director of the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution of the Morris K. and Stewart L. Udall Foundation. She has authored several peer-reviewed publications and book chapters on collaborative resource management and environmental conflict resolution (see http:/ /home.mindspring.com/~kirk_emerson).

This research report was completed for the New Mexico Wildlife Federation and the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance.

“Interagency Cooperation on U.S.-Mexico Border Wilderness Issues” can be found online at: http://kirk_emerson.home.mindspring.com/Interagency_Border_Cooperation.pdf.

For more information: Nathan Newcomer, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, 505-250-4225, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

House Hearing for Cibola NF Expansion Bill

For Immediate Release
Date: June 24, 2010
Contact: Nathan Newcomer, NM Wilderness Alliance
Phone: 505-250-4225

Bill to Expand Cibola National Forest Gets House Hearing

NM Wilderness Leader Applauds Needed Legislation

New Mexico Wilderness Alliance executive director Stephen Capra was on Capitol Hill today to testify in support of the Cibola National Forest Expansion legislation.  The measure, introduced by Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), would add the Crest of Montezuma to the north end of the Cibola National Forest and adds nearly 1,000 acres to the Manzano Wilderness on the forest’s western end.

Capra praised Congressman Heinrich for his outreach to varied constituency groups – tribes, Land Grant and Acequia communities, sportsmen and conservationists – in working to expand the forest, including the addition of important acreage to the existing Manzano Mountain Wilderness.   “The final product reflects the willingness of all participants to reach a workable compromise that will benefit all concerned and ensure greater protection for these important federal lands,” Capra testified.

“The transfer of these areas from the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management to the U.S. Forest Service as additions to the Cibola National Forest simply makes good common sense.  This action will ensure these lands are better managed—improving their recreational and wildlife habitat values,” he said.

The Sandia Mountains are known by Native Americans as the Watermelon Mountains, because of the beautiful colors that reflect off these peaks at sunset.  They are the dramatic backdrop of Albuquerque and a source of recreational opportunity and solitude for urban dwellers.  In 1978, New Mexico Senator Pete V. Domenici, working with conservationists and a diverse group of stakeholders, championed legislation creating the 38,000-acre Sandia Wilderness. This measure has since then provided Albuquerque residents a stunning landscape – free of development, which has become a staple for those looking for quiet recreation or to enjoy the beauty and solitude the “Land of Enchantment” has to offer.

“The addition of the Crest of Montezuma is an important addition to the Cibola National Forest,” Capra said.  “Bringing this area under the management of the U.S. Forest Service is also widely supported by the neighboring community of Placitas, where people have long asked for an expansion of the wilderness boundaries.”   Capra noted that both the Crest of Montezuma and the Manzanos are important wildlife corridors, home to deer, elk, black bear and mountain lion.

“For more than a quarter century, a small piece of the Manzano mountain has been left out of the wilderness boundary, leaving management of this area confusing and disconnected,” Capa testified.   “Congressman Heinrich has engendered solid collaboration and outreach to the Land Grant community and local sportsmen here to ensure that all-important voices have been heard as he developed this legislation.”

“The addition of the new wilderness will only enhance this remarkable landscape —where one can drop into a narrow canyon in the fall and enjoy the beauty of the native maple forests, or stand on the mountaintop and gaze literally hundreds of miles and see distant mountain ranges, the green cut of the Rio Grande, and watch hawks and Golden Eagles flying across this great expanse of American wilderness,” he concluded.

Governor Proclaims Roadless Recreation Week in New Mexico

For Immediate Release
Date: August 5, 2010
Contact: Nathan Newcomer, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance
Phone: 505-250-4225


Governor Richardson Proclaims First Annual
“Roadless Recreation Week”

Outdoor activities start Saturday in New Mexico national forests and across the country

New Mexico, (August 5, 2010) – Governor Bill Richardson (D-NM) joins  other governors and conservation groups from across the country to support America’s first annual Roadless Recreation Week, August 7-15, which will host more than 50 recreation activities in national forest roadless areas in New Mexico and in 12 other states. The weeklong celebration highlights the importance of the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, issued to protect nearly 60 million acres of pristine national forests across the country, and encourages the public to go “all out” to enjoy the outdoor opportunities these areas provide.

Governor Richardson issued a proclamation today to “recognize the recreational, environmental and economic values” roadless areas provide and calls the national roadless rule “one of the most popular federal policies ever developed.” The proclamation notes that roadless areas are a source of drinking water for 60 million Americans, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as recreation jobs in rural communities.

The USDA estimates there were 173.5 million recreation visits to U.S. Forest System lands in 2009, with more than 57 percent of those visits for activities such as hiking, mountain biking and fishing.

“People can have fun and show their support for saving these treasured places,” said Nathan Newcomer, Associate Director of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. “Roadless forests are some of the best outdoor recreation areas we have in the state, and New Mexicans are enjoying their roadless areas even more today than they did when the roadless rule was enacted in 2001.”

The first annual Roadless Recreation Week occurs as a federal court prepares to issue an important decision about the Roadless Area Conservation Rule. The rule was issued in 2001 by the Clinton administration to protect roughly one-third of undeveloped U.S. Forest Service lands. It was the result of the largest public lands review process in U.S. history, with more than 1.2 million comments and 600 public hearings.

The rule has been the subject of conflicting court decisions over the past decade. In August 2009, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling to reinstate the roadless rule for most roadless areas, but a Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals decision is still pending. The Obama administration has expressed strong support for the national policy, and has asked the Tenth Circuit to uphold the rule.

New Mexico residents can go to www.nmwild.org to find out about the week’s activities in their area, and to learn how to support roadless area protection, and read Governor Richardson’s proclamation.

CLICK HERE to view Governor Richardson’s proclamation.

Rep. Heinrich Introduces Bill Extending Cibola NF and Manzano Wilderness

For Immediate Release
Date: 5/25/10
Contact: Whitney Potter
Phone: (505) 346-6781
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

From the Office of Rep. Martin Heinrich, 5/25/10

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, U.S. Representative Martin Heinrich (NM-1) introduced legislation that would protect two areas of land in central New Mexico. The bill adds the Crest of Montezuma to the north end of the Cibola National Forest and extends a wilderness designation to the Manzano Wilderness Study Area to the south.

“For families living near Placitas, this legislation will ensure their access to critical water infrastructure for farm irrigation and other important uses,” said Rep. Heinrich during a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives today. “It will also ensure that East Mountain families can use these places for recreation. Finally, it will preserve the areas’ critical role as a wildlife corridor for animals that migrate from north to south across our state.

“The Sandia and Manzano mountains are important to our quality of life, and high quality public lands are also important for attracting the jobs of the future that a strong quality of life help bring in,” said Jeremy Vesbach, director, New Mexico Wildlife Federation. “We are thankful to Representative Heinrich for working to protect the mountains we all love and care about, our kids and our economy benefit from actions like this.”

“Today’s introduction of legislation to add land to the Cibola National Forest, including additions to the Manzano Wilderness, makes it clear that Representative Heinrich is a champion for preserving New Mexico’s outstanding public lands for future generations,” said Nathan Newcomer, associate director, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance.