Press Releases

Press Release

New Mexico Wild celebrates creation of thirteen new wilderness areas in state

New Mexico Wild celebrates creation of thirteen new wilderness areas in state

Legislation signed today contains more than 270,000 acres of new wilderness

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (March 12, 2019) – U.S. President Donald Trump today signed a package of public lands legislation that, in part, establishes thirteen new wilderness areas in New Mexico totaling approximately 272,586 acres. Ten of the new wilderness areas are within the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument and two are within the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. The amount of new wilderness for New Mexico contained in S. 47, the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act represents the most acreage of wilderness designated in New Mexico in a single year since 1980.

“It is a historic day for New Mexicans who overwhelmingly support permanent protections for our most wild places,” said Mark Allison, Executive Director of New Mexico Wild. “This result is the culmination of decades of hard work by citizens throughout the state who have relentlessly advocated for more wilderness designations. We are fortunate to have leaders representing us in Congress who understand the importance of public lands to our communities and help push legislation like this across the finish line.”

A wilderness area designation is the highest level of protection for federal public lands. Only Congress may designate wilderness areas or change the status of existing wilderness areas. The designations that became official today bring the total amount of protected wilderness in New Mexico to approximately 1,968,184 acres.

Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich co-sponsored the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Conservation Act, which was absorbed into the public lands package that was signed into law today. The legislation includes ten wilderness areas within the national monument totaling 241,554 acres.

Legislation to safeguard the wilderness in Doña Ana County was first introduced by former Senator Jeff Bingaman in 2009 in the 111th Congress, and then again by Senators Udall and Heinrich in the 112th and 113th Congresses.

Hunting, livestock grazing, hiking, camping, horseback riding, firefighting, law enforcement activities, and border security will still be permitted in the wilderness areas. The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks contains approximately 306 bird species and 78 mammal species including golden eagles, mule deer, javelina, cougar, ring-tail cat, and quail.

A 2016 poll showed 78 percent of citizens in Doña Ana County support the protection of wilderness within the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.

Also included in the public lands package was the Cerros del Norte Conservation Act, which was also co-sponsored by Senators Udall and Heinrich, to designate the Cerro del Yuta Wilderness and the Rio San Antonio Wilderness within the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. The bill passed the Senate without amendment in December 2017. Congressman Ben Ray Lujan sponsored an identical bill in the House of Representatives, which was co-sponsored by former Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham. The original version of the legislation was first introduced by former U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman in 2009.

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.

The potential wilderness areas within the national monument serve as some of the world’s great avian migratory routes. They are also home to wildlife, including bear, pronghorn and elk. The new designations safeguard world-class recreation opportunities already enjoyed within the national monument, such as hiking, hunting, and fishing.

Overall, the two wilderness areas created by the Cerros del Norte Conservation Act comprise 21,540 acres of the 243,140-acre national monument northwest of Taos, New Mexico.

The public lands package also includes the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Area comprising approximately 7,242 acres and a 2,250-acre expansion of the existing Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness Area near the Four Corners region.

In addition to New Mexico’s thirteen new wilderness areas, the public lands package reauthorizes the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which has provided funding for public lands and open spaces in all 33 New Mexico counties since its creation. Congress failed to reauthorize the fund in September 2018, leading to the loss of tens of millions of dollars for America’s public lands. Senators Heinrich and Udall have been two of the fund’s most ardent supporters in the Senate.

On February 12, 2019, S. 47 passed the U.S. Senate by a voice vote of 92-8. On February 26, 2019 the package passed the U.S. House on a motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill by a count of 363-62.

###

ABOUT THE NEW MEXICO WILDERNESS ALLIANCE: The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance or “New Mexico Wild” is a non-profit 501 (C)(3), independent, homegrown, grassroots, conservation organization dedicated to the protection, restoration and continued respect of New Mexico’s wildlands and Wilderness areas. With staff and thousands of supporters throughout the state, New Mexico Wild 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.

More Articles ...

  1. U.S. House passes public lands package containing 13 new wilderness areas in New Mexico
  2. New Mexico Wild celebrates U.S. Senate passage of new wilderness areas within Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and Rio Grande del Norte National Monuments
  3. New Mexico Wild tells BLM to postpone oil and gas lease sales
  4. New Mexico Wild calls on public to help document public land conditions during shutdown
  5. PRESS RELEASE: Conservation and environmental groups release recommendations for game commission candidates
  6. Southern New Mexico Stands Up to President Trump’s Attack on Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument
  7. Taos News: The truth about the 'Protect the Pecos' campaign (2)
  8. Conservationists Intervene on Behalf of Mexican Gray Wolf Reintroduction Efforts in New Mexico
  9. Santa Fe National Forest Public Meetings - April and May 2016
  10. 6th International Mexican Wolf Stamp
  11. CONSERVATION GROUPS ASK STATE SUPREME COURT: INVALIDATE EVISCERATION OF OIL & GAS PIT RULE
  12. Week of celebrations will mark Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks’ 1st Anniversary
  13. 5th International Mexican Gray Wolf Stamp Released
  14. Land Transfer Bill Killed in Santa Fe
  15. Groundbreaking progress for New Mexico: U.S. House passes bill to create Columbine Hondo Wilderness
  16. U.S. Senate Committee Sends Columbine Hondo to Floor for Consideration
  17. New Mexico becomes wilderness headquarters
  18. NM Wild Staff Members Embark On Historic 50-Mile Gila Trek To Commemorate 90th Anniversary
  19. Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument to be Protected
  20. New Mexicans Send Clear Message to Sec. Jewell: Protect Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks
  21. RELEASE: Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Legislation Introduced
  22. Columbine Hondo is key step closer to protection
  23. Proposed Massive Military Operations on the Cibola National Forest Questioned
  24. Mora County Becomes the First County in the United States to Permanently Ban the Extraction of Oil and Gas
  25. Announcement that Rio Grande del Norte To Become a National Monument is Cheered by the Local Community
  26. Website Launched to Celebrate Wilderness 50th Anniversary
  27. Northern New Mexicans urge federal delegation to protect Columbine Hondo: Lawmakers listen to community in coalition meeting
  28. Supporters back national monument status for Organ Mountains
  29. 2012 Limited Edition Mexican Wolf Conservation Stamp Released
  30. Nuestra Tierra, Our Land – Our Future Highlights Hispanic Support for Land Protection
  31. New Mexico Celebrates “Great Outdoors Week”
  32. Press Release: Hispano, Green Chambers of Commerce Applaud Reintroduction of Wilderness Protection Bill
  33. Press Release: Local Sportsmen and Back Country Horsemen Organizations Call for Protection of Wilderness
  34. Dona Ana County Wilderness Bill Reintroduced!
  35. Press Release: Mining Claims in Otero Mesa Nearly Triple
  36. Press Release: Sen. Bingaman Wins Praise for Reintroducing New Mexico Conservation Bill
  37. Otero Mesa Targeted by Mining Industry
  38. Press Release: New Forest Service Planning Rule Weakens Current Standards
  39. DoI Press Release: Spotlight on National Landscape Conservation System
  40. NMWA Awards First Conservation Wolf Stamp Grant
  41. New Report: Agency Coordination Improves Border Security and Public Lands Protection
  42. Governor Proclaims Roadless Recreation Week in New Mexico
  43. House Hearing for Cibola NF Expansion Bill
  44. Rep. Heinrich Introduces Bill Extending Cibola NF and Manzano Wilderness
  45. New Mexico Wilderness Alliance 2010 Wild Guide
  46. Northern New Mexico Wilderness Bill Heads to Senate Floor
  47. Doña Ana County Wilderness Bill Introduced!
  48. New Mexico Conservation Bill Takes Key Step Towards Passage
  49. Otero Mesa Victory!
  50. Congress Passes Bill That Protects Sabinoso

Membership

Search

Press Releases Menu

  • New Mexico Wild Celebrates Re-Introduction of Chaco Protection Legislation +

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                     Read More
  • New Mexico Wild celebrates creation of thirteen new wilderness areas in state +

    New Mexico Wild celebrates creation of thirteen new wilderness areas in state Legislation signed today contains more than 270,000 acres Read More
  • U.S. House passes public lands package containing 13 new wilderness areas in New Mexico +

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE U.S. House passes public lands package containing 13 new wilderness areas in New Mexico Legislation now heads Read More
  • New Mexico Wild celebrates U.S. Senate passage of new wilderness areas within Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and Rio Grande del Norte National Monuments +

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE New Mexico Wild celebrates U.S. Senate passage of new wilderness areas within Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and Rio Read More
  • New Mexico Wild tells BLM to postpone oil and gas lease sales +

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE New Mexico Wild tells BLM to postpone oil and gas lease sales Letter to agency questions whether current Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12