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Aluquerque Journal
Michael Coleman
Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall urged a Senate subcommittee Wednesday to support designating 46,000 acres in Taos County, commonly referred to as the Columbine-Hondo, as a federally protected wilderness area.

The New Mexico Democrats introduced legislation to designate the area as wilderness in April. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., has introduced a similar bill in the House.

Udall and Heinrich told a Senate Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee that there is broad community support for the designation and that it would safeguard recreational opportunities and water resources. The land is home to the headwaters of the second- and third-largest tributaries of the Rio Grande, Heinrich said.

“In an arid Western state like New Mexico, there is nothing more valuable than our water resources,” Heinrich said. “We need to do everything we can to protect those resources.”