For Immediate Release
August 23, 2011
Contact: NATHAN NEWCOMER
NEW MEXICO WILDERNESS ALLIANCE, 505-250-4225
New Mexico Celebrates “Great Outdoors Week”
Conservation, Recreation Groups Call on Congress to Protect National Forests and Wilderness
Albuquerque, NM (August 22, 2011) – State Land Commissioner Ray Powell and other elected officials join conservation groups and leaders from across the country to celebrate America’s Great Outdoors and call on Congress to protect America’s national forests, wilderness and other wild lands. The week, which runs from August 20 to August 28, will feature a series of outdoor activities that highlight the importance of public lands in New Mexico and nationwide to outdoor recreation, water and wildlife, and local economies.
“New Mexico is known around the world for its natural beauty, air quality which includes the vast terrain we have of unsurpassed quality of mesas, valleys, highest peaks and bountiful lakes allowing folks to hunt, hike, ski, boat and enjoy recreational activities under the New Mexico sun,” said State Land Commissioner, Ray Powell.
As part of the celebration, State Land Commissioner, Ray Powell, County Commissioner John Olivas and other leaders issued proclamations and statements that echoed President Theodore Roosevelt’s definition of a good citizen as one who pulls his own weight by “calling upon the residents to observe and participate in this week with appreciation for America’s immeasurable public lands.”
Great Outdoors Week comes as Congress is considering legislation that would open up more than 60 million acres of national forest roadless tracts and Wilderness Study Areas – an area the size of Wyoming – to new development. The measure is only one of multiple attempts by lawmakers in Washington, DC to undo fundamental environmental protections for clean air, clean water, endangered species and public lands.
“With more than half of our public lands already open to full-scale development, and less than three percent of New Mexico’s wild lands permanently protected, we call on our leaders to give meaningful protection to the rest so that they can be enjoyed by future generations,” said Nathan Newcomer, Associate Director of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance.
The United States Department of Agriculture estimates there were more than 173 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. More than two-thirds of Americans participate in outdoor recreation activities annually on our public lands – including hiking, biking, camping, climbing, kayaking, fishing, canoeing and snowshoeing – contributing $730 billion to the U.S. economy and $3.8 billion annually to New Mexico’s economy.
“New Mexico’s Great Outdoor’s are truly a priceless treasure, and I hope this week’s activities will encourage New Mexican’s of all ages to explore our public lands and perhaps try out a new outdoor recreational activity,” said Mora County Commissioner, John Olivas. “I also hope many will be inspired to help protect our natural resources, which is not only critical for the health of the environment, but also for the enjoyment of future generations.”
Read some of the proclamations and messages for New Mexico’s Great Outdoors Week: