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New Mexico Wild Applauds Introduction of Bill to Enhance and Protect New Mexico’s Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monuments (2)

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                            

Contact: Tisha Broska, Deputy Director, New Mexico Wild, 505-321-6131, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Albuquerque, NM, July 17, 2018 - New Mexico Wild applauded today’s introduction of the America’s Natural Treasures of Immeasurable Quality Unite, Inspire, and Together Improve the Economies of States Act of 2018 (“The ANTIQUITIES Act” of 2018) in the United States House of Representatives by Congresswoman Michelle Lujan-Grisham (D- CD1, NM) and Congressman Ben Ray Luján (D-CD3, NM) along with 63 co-sponsors. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) sponsored and introduced the bill and Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) co-sponsored the legislation in the US Senate in January.

This bill would legislatively protect 51 national monuments that were designated by executive authority dating back to 1996, including those threatened by President Trump’s national monument review.

New Mexico Wild has asserted that a president does not have the authority to rescind, harm, or amend previous presidential proclamations made under the 1906 Antiquities Act. Last year, New Mexico Wild announced its intention to bring legal action against President Trump if either of New Mexico’s national monuments named in the review, Rio Grande del Norte (RGDN) or Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks (OMDP), were harmed. New Mexico Wild is filing an amicus brief in solidarity with the All Pueblo Council of Governors for the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, which President Trump shrunk by 85 percent in December.

While New Mexico Wild stands ready to take additional legal action if necessary, we praise Congresswoman Lujan-Grisham’s and Congressman Luján’s leadership in taking steps to safeguard these national monuments, including expanding protections for the Bears Ears National Monument. Moreover, New Mexico Wild and our thousands of supporters throughout the state are elated that the bill would designate over 249,000 acres of federal public lands in New Mexico as Wilderness, consisting of lands within the RGDN and OMDP national monuments.

“These areas have a special place in the hearts of New Mexicans and this legislation recognizes the desire to keep them wild and free for this and all future generations,” said Mark Allison, Executive Director of New Mexico Wild. “New Mexicans are rightly proud of the importance of these areas to our natural and cultural heritage.”

Designated in 2013 and 2014 respectively, both RGDN and OMDP enjoy overwhelming community support from diverse coalitions of business owners, sportsmen, tribal leaders, local and elected officials, faith leaders, and the general public. During the recent comment period for the Department of Interior national monument review process, New Mexico had the most comments submitted per capita of any state, with nearly 98 percent of those for RGDN and 93 percent of the comments received for OMDP wanting no changes. New Mexicans support protection of these areas as sources of clean water; areas to practice traditional uses such as hunting, fishing, and as ceremonial sites; places to recreate; and for the health of New Mexico’s economy.  

“This bill recognizes and responds to the extreme attacks President Trump has leveled against the nation’s bedrock conservation laws, our national monuments, and public lands in general,” said Allison. “Congresswoman Lujan-Grisham and Congressman Luján are demonstrating the vision and leadership to go to bat for New Mexicans and protect the Land of Enchantment. They are doing what we all want the rest of congress to be doing – offering solutions.”

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ABOUT NEW MEXICO WILD: The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance or “New Mexico Wild” is a non-profit 501 (C)(3), grassroots conservation organization dedicated to the protection, restoration and continued respect of New Mexico’s wildlands and Wilderness areas. Founded 21 years ago with staff and supporters throughout the state, the organization is aligned with our nation’s landmark Wilderness Act of 1964 and is dedicated to the rights and the value of citizen involvement in protecting increasingly rare wild places within public lands. Just as freedom is every American’s birthright, so too is Wilderness.

New Mexico Wild Celebrates Decision to Prohibit Energy Development in Sensitive Jemez Mountains;

       Geothermal Leasing Would Have Risked Groundwater, Sacred Sites, and Recreation Areas

Contact:

Mark Allison, Executive Director, New Mexico Wild, 505-239-0906

Judy Calman, Staff Attorney, New Mexico Wild, 505-615-5020

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (June 13, 2018) -- The Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) finalized a decision today not to allow the Jemez Ranger District to be leased for geothermal development. In May of 2015, the SFNF began considering a proposal to lease approximately 195,000 acres for geothermal production.  The proposal stemmed from an Expression of Interest submitted by an out-of-state company.

In addition to containing portions of nine critical Inventoried Roadless Areas, the area under consideration for development is home to endangered species like the Mexican spotted owl, the Jemez Mountains salamander, and the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse. Many sacred indigenous sites and hot springs are found in the proposed geothermal leasing area, and its adjacency to the Valles Caldera National Preserve provides an extended continuous landscape for the Preserve’s ecosystem health. The nearby community of Jemez Springs is vulnerable to impacts from geothermal development, including increased truck traffic, water contamination, negative effects on tourism, and other damage to the quality of life for residents. New Mexico Wild believes significant portions of the proposal area may also qualify for wilderness designation. The proposal area is in one of New Mexico’s most heavily-visited recreation sites, including well-known attractions like Battleship Rock, Soda Dam, and Las Conchas fishing access area.

Geothermal production often comes with substantial environmental consequences. Significant surface disturbance is required for well-pads and pumps (similar to those used in oil and gas operations), roads, transmission lines and pipelines. Additionally, fresh water is required, and fracking is often used.

New Mexico Wild believes that these activities must be sited in appropriate places and must include enough restrictions to effectively mitigate the potential harm from the activity. We did not believe development in this sensitive area was appropriate or compatible with its high level of recreational use. Evidence also indicates that geothermal development in the Jemez would yield an extremely small amount of energy.

New Mexico Wild submitted technical comments and hosted a meeting with USFS officials and the public in Albuquerque. The USFS received over 900 public comments in support of the “No Leasing Alternative,” and none in support of leasing the Jemez for geothermal.

“We are thrilled that the Santa Fe National Forest has listened to the unanimous voice of New Mexicans, who do not want this beloved place to be irreparably damaged,” said Judy Calman, Staff Attorney for New Mexico Wild. “The Jemez is deeply special to countless residents and visitors who love its hot springs, rivers, wildlife, fishing spots, hiking trails, hunting opportunities, waterfalls, and campgrounds. It is not a place that should be risked for an uncertain and likely miniscule financial gain.”

“We thank the SFNF Supervisor for weighing the evidence and ultimately making the correct decision,” said Mark Allison, Executive Director of New Mexico Wild. “This outcome is a direct result of New Mexicans standing together to say with a collective voice that this area is too special to be harmed.  We are particularly grateful for the leadership demonstrated by the All Pueblo Council of Governors, which opposed this development proposal.”

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New Mexico Wild is a statewide, independent, grassroots non-profit 501 (C)(3), advocacy organization dedicated to the protection, restoration and continued respect of New Mexico’s wildlands and Wilderness areas. www.nmwild.org

Conservationists to rally against the ecologically harmful Gila River diversion

MEDIA ADVISORY

June 29, 2018

Conservationists to rally against the ecologically harmful Gila River diversion
No Dam Diversion on the Gila Rally scheduled for Monday, July 2 at 5pm

June 29, 2018, Albuquerque, NM – The Gila Conservation Coalition, Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club, Audubon New Mexico, Defenders of Wildlife, Center for Biological Diversity, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, Wild Earth Guardians and other conservation organizations will hold a rally on Monday, July 2 in opposition to the Gila River diversion as part of the NEPA scoping public meeting being held at the State Bar of New Mexico from 4 – 7 pm.
 
Out of time and facing a legal deadline, the proposed Gila diversion project has entered into the formal review and approval process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), regardless of its incomplete plans, lack of review of feasibility, few beneficiaries, and huge costs.
 
As joint leads for the NEPA process, the Bureau of Reclamation and the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission have initiated preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Gila River diversion project (NM Unit) proposed by the NM Central Arizona Project Entity (NM CAP Entity).
 
Flowing out of America's first Wilderness Area, the Gila River is New Mexico's last major undammed river. It's home to seven threatened or endangered species and is proposed for long-term protection under the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act.

The proposed NM Unit is expensive, unaffordable and unfair and will harm threatened and endangered species and riparian habitat along the Gila and San Francisco rivers. The NM CAP Entity's intention to divert in the future the full 14,000 acre-feet per year under the AWSA is speculative and unnecessary.
 
What: No Dam Diversion on the Gila Rally
When: Monday, July 2, 5pm; NEPA Scoping Open House scheduled for 4 – 7pm
Where: 5121 Masthead St. NE, Albuquerque, NM
 
During the public scoping period June 12 - July 20, the BOR and ISC are requesting public comment on the issues that they should analyze in the NM Unit EIS.
 
More information on the harmful Gila River diversion project is available in the Gila Conservation Coalition fact sheet at: http://www.gilaconservation.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/NMUnitNEPAScopingFactSheet062618.pdf

150 Conservation Groups Tell Congress: Keep Bikes Out of Wilderness

For Release: June 6, 2018                                                                                                      


150 Conservation Groups Tell Congress: Keep Bikes Out of Wilderness

CONTACTS:
George Nickas, Wilderness Watch, 406-542-2048, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Kevin Proescholdt, Wilderness Watch, 612-201-9266, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Mark Allison, New Mexico Wild, 505-239-0906, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Albuquerque, New Mexico - A broad coalition of 150 conservation and Wilderness organizations from across America have asked Congress “to reject an unprecedented call to weaken the Wilderness Act to allow for the use of mountain bikes in designated Wilderness.”

The sign-on letter from the 150 organizations was prepared in response to two Republican bills (S. 2877 and H.R. 1349), which would open up all of America’s 110-million acres of Wilderness to mountain bikes and other wheeled contraptions within 2 years of passage. The Senate bill was just recently introduced in Congress.

“For over a half century, the Wilderness Act has protected wilderness areas from mechanization and mechanical transport, even if no motors were involved with such activities. This has meant, as Congress intended, that Wildernesses have been kept free from bicycles and other types of mechanization and mechanical transport. [We] believe that this protection has served our nation well, and that the ‘benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness’ would be forever lost by allowing mechanized transport in these areas,” the 150 organizations wrote Congress in the sign-on letter. 

A copy of the letter to Congress signed by 150 conservation groups can be viewed here: http://nmwild.org/images/news/Mtn-bike-sign-on-2018-06-05.pdf

“We see this for what it is: an assault on the very idea of Wilderness and the values of the Wilderness Act,” said George Nickas, executive director of Wilderness Watch. “At a time when wilderness and wildlife are under increasing pressures from increasing populations, growing mechanization, and a rapidly changing climate, the last thing Wilderness needs is to be invaded by mountain bikes and other machines.”

Supporters of S. 2877 and H.R. 1349 erroneously claim that mountain bikes were allowed in Wilderness until 1984, but then banned administratively by the U.S. Forest Service. This claim is simply not true.

“The 1964 Wilderness Act (36 U.S.C. 1131-1136) banned all types of mechanized transport, including bicycles, in designated Wilderness. Section 4(c) of that act states, “[T]here shall be...no use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment or motorboats, no landing of aircraft, no other form of mechanical transport, and no structure or installation within any such area.” (italics added)

“Mountain biking is a wonderful activity, but it doesn’t belong in Wilderness. With less than 3% of New Mexico permanently protected as Wilderness, mountain bikers have millions of acres available for recreation. We owe it to future generations, wildlife, and the land itself to place certain areas off limits to motorized and mechanized uses,” said Mark Allison, executive director of New Mexico Wild.  

“With all the threats we are facing to our public lands, from shrinking national monuments to calls for privatization, it is arrogant for the small group of proponents of this bill to try to undermine the Wilderness Act. Rather than promoting this cynical agenda, they should stand with us to fight off the unprecedented attacks from the Trump administration and the 115th Congress,” said Allison.

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