September 21, 2011
WASHINGTON, DC (September 21, 2011) – A delegation of representatives from New Mexico gathered in Washington this week to meet with the state’s Congressional delegation and to call on those elected officials to help implement the key recommendation from a new report; “Otero Mesa & America’s Great Outdoors: A Promise for Future Generations.” The report is aimed at helping move the Obama Administration’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative forward in New Mexico and calls for permanently protecting Otero Mesa in Southeast New Mexico.
“The Otero Mesa & America’s Great Outdoors report spells out point by point how this grassroots campaign fits perfectly into the goals and recommendations the Obama administration has set forth in the AGO initiative,” said Nathan Newcomer, Associate Director, with the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. “We have worked diligently to engage the public and garner local support from many diverse stakeholders, and now we are relying on President Obama to provide permanent protection for this iconic grassland through the America’s Great Outdoors initiative.”
Staff from the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, and The Wilderness Society joined hundreds of others to celebrate Great Outdoors America Week or GO America Week. In the heart of National Wilderness Month, hundreds of outdoor enthusiasts from all walks of life – high school students and adults, active members of the military and veterans, conservationists and business leaders, hunters and anglers, bikers and boaters – are in DC to celebrate America’s Great Outdoors, and ask their elected officials to protect our natural heritage.
“As a mother who lives in rural New Mexico, I understand the importance of getting our children out into the great outdoors,” said Marie Vallejos of Alamogordo, New Mexico. “Otero Mesa is right in our backyard and offers numerous opportunities for scientific research, educational experiences and even future jobs for our community.”
Go America Week could not have come at a more important time. In addition to pushing the Administration to protect valued public lands, including Otero Mesa, the groups are in Washington to bring clarity to the battle surrounding those lands. America’s lands and waters are facing unprecedented attacks from a minority in Congress:
- Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R, CA-22) has introduced risky legislation, The Great Outdoors Giveaway, that would give away our lands and waters to corporate polluters.
- Devastating budget cuts have been made to our most needed programs, and further cuts could result in closures in our parks, refuges and other wild places.
- Several elected officials have introduced a suite of bills that would severely undercut the president’s ability to designate national monuments using the Antiquities Act.
- A barrage of bills that would waive environmental regulations and destroy public lands on our nation’s borders, sell off our public lands, and eviscerate the Wilderness Act of 1964.
“For sportsmen in the southwest, protected public lands mean everything to our culture, heritage and economy” said John Cornell of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. “Every year nearly 1 million people participate in hunting, fishing and wildlife watching activities in New Mexico, contributing $823 million to the state economy.”