New Mexico Wild applauds protecting special areas within
Río Grande del Norte National Monument
Congressman Ben Ray Lujàn introduces bill to protect wilderness
TAOS, NM (April 24, 2018) – New Mexico Wild joined a broad coalition today applauding the introduction of the Cerros del Norte Conservation Act in the House of Representatives. The legislation would provide extra protection for special areas contained within the Río Grande del Norte National Monument by designating two wilderness areas – Ute Mountain (Cerro del Yuta) and San Antonio Mountain (Río San Antonio). Congressman Ben Ray Lujan introduced the bill. An identical bill introduced by Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall passed the Senate in December.
A poll conducted by Third Eye Strategies in 2016 found that ninety-three percent of registered voters in Taos County believe that wilderness is important to them. Ninety-five percent of those surveyed believe it is important for public lands to be preserved for future generations.
Designated in 2013, Río Grande del Norte National Monument continues to enjoy overwhelming community support, including the backing of business owners, sportsmen, tribal leaders, land grant heirs, local elected officials, and grazing permittees.
During last year’s review of national monuments by the Department of Interior, New Mexico had the most comments submitted per capita of any state. Nearly ninety eight percent of the comments received for Rio Grande del Norte opposed the executive order and wanted the monument to remain as is. President Trump has not made a final decision on the status of the monument and it remains in jeopardy. New Mexico Wild previously announced that it would take legal action in the event there was any harm done to the monument.
“The current attempts by the Trump administration to abolish, shrink, and harm our national monuments underscores the unique permanent protections that Wilderness designation affords our most special public lands,” said Mark Allison, Executive Director of New Mexico Wild. “New Mexicans can be proud that the idea of wilderness protection was born here long ago and lives on today. On behalf of our thousands of members and supporters, we express our deep thanks and appreciation to Congressman Lujan for this gift to our future.”
The proposed wilderness areas within the national monument serve as one of the world’s great avian migratory routes. It is also home to wildlife, including bear, pronghorn and elk. The legislation would also safeguard world-class recreation opportunities already enjoyed within the national monument, such as hiking, hunting, and fishing.
The two proposed wilderness areas in the Cerros del Norte Conservation Act will comprise 21,420 acres of the 243,140-acre national monument northwest of Taos, New Mexico.