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It's official — White Sands is a national park

By Las Cruces Sun-News
December 21, 2019

ALBUQUERQUE — President Donald Trump’s signature on defense legislation enacted by Congress means White Sands National Monument in southern New Mexico is now White Sands National Park.

White Sands became the 62nd designated national park Friday with Trump’s signing of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, which included a provision on the re-designation, park officials said Saturday in a statement.

“Our staff are very excited for White Sands to be recognized as a national park and to reintroduce ourselves to the American public,” said White Sands Superintendent Marie Sauter. “We are so appreciative of our partners, local communities, and congressional leaders who made this achievement possible and look forward to continued success working together.”

White Sands National Monument was established on Jan. 18, 1933, by President Herbert Hoover to preserve “the white sands and additional features of scenic, scientific, and educational interest.”

According to the statement, White Sands contains not only the world’s largest gypsum dunefield, including gypsum hearthmounds found nowhere else, but also is home to the globe’s largest collection of Ice Age fossilized footprints.”

The park, the statement said, “tells more than 10,000 years of human presence, all while providing memorable recreational opportunities.”

White Sands sees hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, more than any other park service location in New Mexico. In 2017, White Sands logged more than 600,000 visits and spurred more than $31 million in spending for the local economy.

Buy PhotoVisitors gather for an early morning event at White Sands National Monument. Whether your destination is a day trip or a vacation at a distant location, making sure you're prepared for the climate and activities will enhance your getaway. (Photo: Jett Loe/Las Cruces Sun-News)

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, a New Mexico Democrat who was among those who pushed for the re-designation, has said he expected the change would boost the local economy and spur more recognition for the unique spot.

Aside from the name change, the federal legislation included provisions for a land exchange between White Sands and the U.S. Army, which operates an adjacent missile range.

Efforts to establish a national park in the area date back more than a century as some locals wanted to protect the dunes from commercial interests that were attempting to mine the gypsum.

The redesignation came as New Mexico joined other Western states in tapping into the lucrative outdoor recreation industry.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham earlier this year signed a measure that prompted the creation of a dedicated division in state government to focus on expanding outdoor recreation and related economic development.

This article originally appeared in the Las Cruces Sun-News.

AG Balderas Calls on New Mexico Game Commission to Strengthen New Mexico's Waterway Access Rules

KRWG | November 21, 2019

ALBUQUERQUE, NM -- Today, Attorney General Hector Balderas called on the New Mexico Game Commission to immediately strengthen its regulations to address waterway access in compliance with state law. The Attorney General's call for action follows a years long debate surrounding the public's right to access waterways that are adjacent to private land. Here is a statement from the AG's office:

"New Mexican families and landowners deserve access to our waterways while protecting the safety of their property, so I will be directing the commission to strengthen the process to protect private property rights and minimize trespass, while respecting access rights and outdoor activities of sports enthusiasts."

In 2015, the New Mexico Legislature passed legislation that addressed the balance between protecting private landowners’ interests in protecting their property from trespass and damage, while ensuring New Mexicans' rights of access to waterways are protected. Game Commission regulations address these matters, but the current commission leadership has raised concerns regarding the adequacy of the permitting processes these regulations create. The Office of the Attorney General will work with the commission in the coming months to strengthen the rules governing these processes and ensuring that the Legislature's intent is carried out.

Spending bill includes oil, gas buffer around Chaco park

Santa Fe New Mexican (via Associated Press)
December 29, 2019

FARMINGTON — The U.S. Senate has passed a package of bills signed by President Donald Trump that includes enacting a buffer zone around a national park in New Mexico protecting it from oil and gas leasing activities.

The 2020 federal spending package was passed last week and gives the Chaco Culture National Historical Park a 10-mile buffer zone, the Farmington Daily Times reported Tuesday.

No federal funds can be used to accept a nomination for oil and gas leasing in the zone until a cultural resources investigation is completed, officials said.

The buffer zone protects ancient roads and significant cultural resources pending needed studies and consultation with tribal communities, advocates said.

The bill also includes $4 million for continued water quality monitoring in areas impacted by the Gold King Mine spill and allocates $8 million in funding for tribal law enforcement, officials said.

It is a bipartisan Interior funding bill that makes major investments in public lands and environmental protection, some senators said.

This article originally appeared in the Santa Fe New Mexican.

2020 Wolf Stamp Contest

Wolf Stamp 2019 image Resized

Announcing the 2020 Wolf Stamp Contest!

New Mexico Wild invites submissions for the 2020 Mexican Gray Wolf Conservation Stamp. Artists worldwide are invited to enter two-dimensional drawings, paintings, or photographs featuring the Mexican gray wolf. The winning artwork will be featured on the 2020 stamp that will be sold to raise funds to support Mexican gray wolf conservation and education projects. All artwork must be scalable to the size of the stamp, 4.5-inches wide by 5.5-inches tall.

Please submit electronic images of original artwork to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by January 31, 2020.

Click here to purchase a previous wolf stamp.

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