Published: Thursday, 04 January 2018 15:29
Christmas Miracle! Cerros del Norte Conservation Act passes U.S. Senate
Senate passes measure to protect special areas as wilderness within Río Grande del Norte National Monument
TAOS, NM (December 22, 2017) – Just days before Christmas, the U.S. Senate passed the Cerros del Norte Conservation Act (S. 432). A diverse coalition of business owners, sportsmen, tribal leaders, local and federal elected officials, grazing permittees, and more applauded the passage.
“My livelihood depends on the backcountry within the Río Grande del Norte National Monument,” said local outfitter/guide Stuart Wilde. “The passage of the Cerros del Norte Bill reflects the value that New Mexican’s place on wilderness and wild places. In a time when our public lands are under constant threat, this reaffirms our community’s commitment to the protection and conservation of our most special places.”
The legislation would provide extra protection for special areas contained within Río Grande del Norte National Monument by designating two new wilderness areas –Cerro del Yuta and Río San Antonio. The national monument was designated by President Obama in 2013 after Congress failed time and again to move legislation supported by the local community. Because only Congress can designate Wilderness, Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall introduced the Cerros del Norte Conservation Act following the national monument designation to protect these critical areas.
“Wilderness areas provide the best wildlife habitat for the numerous land and water species that call this area home. These two wilderness designations will ensure that future generations of hunters and anglers will always have true backcountry areas to visit in northern New Mexico. I want to thank Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall for their steadfast leadership in safeguarding our natural heritage,” added Nick Streit, owner of Taos Fly Shop.
Grazing would continue in the already-existing areas and water rights would not be impacted. Additionally, the proposed wilderness areas within the national monument serve as one of the world’s great avian migratory routes. It is also home to important game species like pronghorn and elk. The legislation would also safeguard world-class recreation opportunities already enjoyed within the national monument, such as hiking, hunting, and fishing.
Erminio Martinez, a grazing permittee, said, “My family has been ranching in Northern New Mexico for over 400 years, and we want future generations to have these same opportunities. The national monument designation has not impacted our operations, and neither will preserving Cerro del Yuta and Río San Antonio as wilderness. Our cattle depend upon clean and abundant water, and wilderness will help preserve the resource protecting the time honored tradition we value so deeply.”
Wilderness designation within the national monument will boost local businesses:
The two proposed wilderness areas in the Cerros del Norte Conservation Act will comprise 21,540 acres of the 242,500-acre national monument northwest of Taos, New Mexico.
Published: Wednesday, 06 December 2017 14:12
133 Conservation Groups Tell Congress: Keep Bikes Out of Wilderness
U.S. House Hearing on GOP Bill Opening All Wilderness Areas to Bikes and Other Wheeled Contraptions is Thursday, December 7th
Mark Allison, Executive Director, New Mexico Wild, 505-239-0906
Albuquerque, New Mexico - A broad coalition of 133 conservation and Wilderness organizations from across America have asked Congress “to reject an unprecedented call to amend the Wilderness Act to allow for the use of mountain bikes in designated Wilderness.”
The sign-on letter from the organizations was prepared ahead of a December 7th hearing in the U.S. House’s Subcommittee on Federal Lands on a Republican-sponsored bill (H.R. 1349), which would open all of America’s 110 million acres of Wilderness to mountain bikes and other wheeled contraptions.
“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 the law intended, that Wildernesses have been kept free from bicycles and other types of mechanization and mechanical transport,” the 133 organizations wrote Congress in a sign-on letter prepared for the December 7th hearing. A copy of the letter to Congress can be viewed here: http://bit.ly/2AU0ume
“Mountain biking is a wonderful activity, but it doesn’t belong in Wilderness. With roughly 2% of New Mexico permanently protected as Wilderness, mountain bikers have millions of other 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 and cynical for the small group of proponents of this bill to try to undermine the Wilderness Act. Rather than promoting their narrow, selfish agenda, they should stand with us to fight off the unprecedented attacks from the Trump administration and the 115th Congress,” said Allison.
“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 133 conservation and Wilderness protection organizations wrote Congress.