Legislation reintroduced to support protection of Rio Grande del Norte
Udall, Heinrich and Luján reaffirm support for permanent protection of Northern New Mexico land
In a move that re-affirms their dedication to preserving Northern New Mexico’s best wild lands, senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Representative Ben Ray Luján Thursday re-introduced legislation to protect Rio Grande del Norte.
“We are pleased that senators Udall and Heinrich along with Representative Luján re-affirmed their support for Rio Grande del Norte. We hope this action will serve as a catalyst for President Obama to use his authority under the 1906 Antiquities Act to designate Rio Grande del Norte as a protected area within Taos County,” said John Olivas, Traditional Community Organizer for the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. “Yesterday’s actions by the New Mexico delegation bring us one step closer to permanent protection for Rio Grande del Norte.”
“Some of Northern New Mexico’s most historically and culturally rich treasures can be found in these areas,” said Udall. “The residents of Taos and Rio Arriba counties have joined us in an effort to protect their incredible landscapes and ensure the lands remain accessible for the benefit of locals and visitors. I was proud to take up this initiative with Jeff Bingaman and we will work to see that the preservation of the Río Grande del Norte is part of his lasting legacy.”
The legislation would protect 235,000 acres and includes two new Wilderness Areas totaling about 24,000 acres. It would also protect grazing, hunting, gathering of firewood and other traditional uses. Legislation to protect Rio Grande del Norte was introduced during the 111th and 112th Congress, but it failed to pass in either session due to a broken Congress.
In December, NM Wild joined Hispano leaders and organizations, small business owners, the Taos and Mora Valley chambers of commerce, sportsmen, ranchers, the Taos Pueblo, and local elected officials to urge Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to ask the administration to protect Rio Grande del Norte as a national monument.
“Protecting this land should be a top priority, and Secretary Salazar’s visit to Taos in December of last year reinforced that there is overwhelming support by the local community to do so,” Luján said.
Rio Grande del Norte contains some of the most ecologically significant lands in northern New Mexico that provide excellent habitat for a number of species. This legislation would also protect Ute Mountain, which towers over the region, and the vast recreational opportunities contained within the Rio Grande Gorge and Taos Plateau.
“These lands are also important to residents and visitors who come for the recreation opportunities, like hunting and fishing, and who bring a lot of resources into New Mexico’s economy, especially rural communities,” Heinrich said.
According to a2012 economic study, a national monument designation in northern New Mexico is estimated to fuel $15 million in new economic benefits, by boosting tourism and supporting ongoing grazing.
Prints available for purchase until February 16 at 5 p.m.
516 ARTS and New Mexico Wilderness Alliance present a joint fundraising event to celebrate the premiere of Guggenheim Fellow Michael Berman’s new book, Gila: Radical Visions, The Enduring Silence. His black and white photographs of the Gila Wilderness offer a wordless exploration into this complex and subtle landscape. Complementing the stunning photos, the book includes essays by Charles Bowden, Philip Connors, Martha S. Cooper, Dave Foreman, Alex Muñoz, Sharman Apt Russell, M. H. Salmon, Patrick Toomay and others, all inspired by the Gila Wilderness.
Over 80 of Michael’s photographs from the book will be displayed at 516 ARTS February 2–16, 2013, as part of this fundraising project. Learn more here.
Description: This is a moderately difficult hike into the Organ Mountains and up Fillmore Canyon, where a seasonal stream can usually be found bubbling underneath glades of ponderosa pine trees. Hikers will pass abandoned mines, archaeological sites, and be able to look out over the Mesilla Valley. A historical interpreter will be along to take hikers on a history tour, including the trips of Western legends like Billy the Kid, Geronimo, and other, lesser known, but important figures. Just twenty minutes east of Las Cruces, this superb hike is a unique opportunity for a comfortable February day.
Hiking distance: 4.5 miles
Hiking time: 4 hours
Cancellation policy: Trip cancellations made at least one month in advance of the trip departure are eligible for a full refund. If for any reason we cancel a trip, we will also give a full refund.