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2013

  • Senator Martin Heirich’s Office
    Wednesday, November 20, 2013

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, during a Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing, U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), who serves on the committee, continued their effort to designate the 45,000-acre Columbine-Hondo area in Taos County as wilderness. Udall and Heinrich introduced the proposal, S. 776, the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Act, earlier this year. A companion bill, H.R. 1683, was introduced in the House by Representative Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.-03).

    The legislation would expand the Wheeler Peak Wilderness by approximately 650 acres. The proposal would also modify a boundary that creates a loop trail accessible by mountain bikes along the Lost Lake trail from Taos Ski Valley to the East Fork trail to Red River.

    “This bill is the result of years of work by many people on how best to protect the Columbine Hondo’s economic, recreational and scenic values,” Udall said. “Taos County residents, ranchers, governments and businesses resoundingly agree that this area deserves permanent wilderness status. By designating the Columbine Hondo as wilderness, we will open up new tourism and recreation opportunities and protect vital tributaries to the Río Grande, while providing for continued traditional land uses, such as hunting and grazing.”

    “The Columbine-Hondo is one of the most treasured places in New Mexico,” Heinrich said. “Columbine-Hondo is a central attraction for visitors to Taos County, where outdoor recreation and tourism drive the local economy. People come to these mountains to hike, camp, hunt, fish, and spend time with their families, and invariably they leave Taos County with their wallets a little lighter. Permanent protection through this legislation will ensure that future generations have the same opportunities in the Columbine-Hondo that we have today. This legislation is a true community effort, and I want to thank all the members of the Taos community who have worked so hard for decades to make this wilderness area a reality.”

    “The Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Act is the culmination of years of hard work and compromise between various stakeholders in Northern New Mexico, including the conservation community, the recreation community, local ranchers, local governments, small businesses and the Pueblo of Taos,” Luján said. “This piece of legislation will help bring certainty to land managers as well as new economic opportunities for those who utilize the Carson National Forest for their livelihoods and recreation.”

    Located in the Carson National Forest, the Columbine-Hondo has been managed as a “Wilderness Study Area” since 1980. A map of the proposal can be found here.

    The Columbine-Hondo includes lush forests and alpine meadows populated by a variety of Rocky Mountain wildlife, including elk, mule deer, mountain lions, black bears, and bighorn sheep. The area’s watershed serves as the headwaters for the Rio Hondo and Red River, which flow into the Rio Grande and to downstream agricultural communities.

    The legislation is supported by the Taos County Commission, Taos Pueblo, the towns of Taos and Red River, villages of Questa and Taos Ski Valley, Taos County Chamber of Commerce, sportsmen, ranchers, conservation organizations, farmers and irrigation districts (acequias), the Taos Cycling Coalition, International Mountain Bicycling Association, land grant heirs, and hundreds of small businesses.

    A copy of the bill can be found here.

    http://www.heinrich.senate.gov/press-releases/udall-heinrich-lujan-underscore-economic-value-of-conservation-in-continued-effort-to-designate-columbine-hondo-as-wilderness

  • By Matthew van Buren, The Taos News
    February 21, 2013

    Two U.S. senators and a congressman visited Arroyo Seco last weekend to discuss the permanent protection of public lands in Taos County.

    During their Saturday (Feb. 16) visit, Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Rep. Ben Ray Luján, all Democrats from New Mexico, heard from those who would like to see full wilderness protection for the 46,000-acre Columbine-Hondo area north of Taos. Several dozen wilderness supporters, including elected officials, business owners and nonprofit representatives, gathered at the Rivers and Birds offices in Arroyo Seco to hear legislative updates and urge federal action to protect the Columbine-Hondo.

    The Columbine-Hondo was designated a Wilderness Study Area three decades ago. Last year, then-Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-NM, introduced legislation to bring full wilderness protection to the area, but it did not pass. Michael Casaus, state director for the Wilderness Society, said the 112th Congress was the first in decades not to protect a single acre of wilderness.

    Questa Mayor Esther García said village residents respect public lands as communal property, and she supports the creation of the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness as a way to protect watersheds and traditional uses of the land. Taos Town Councilor Andrew Gonzales described the Columbine-Hondo as a “major watershed” with historical, cultural and economic significance.

    Rafting guide Cisco Guevara said a wilderness designation would help stimulate business in the area, and he said water from the Columbine-Hondo is “essential for summer river levels.” Outfitter Stuart Wilde said his clients come to Taos County for “solitude and natural beauty,” which they find in the Columbine-Hondo and Río Grande Gorge.“Conservation is good for business here in Northern New Mexico,” he said.

    Grazing permittee Erminio Martínez said his grandfather grazed cattle in the Columbine-Hondo before New Mexico gained statehood, and Martínez continues the tradition. He urged the dignitaries to protect the area from mining and timber threats while preserving traditional uses.
    “My family has a long history in the Columbine-Hondo,” he said. “It is a beautiful piece of this planet.”

    David Argüello, president of the Arroyo Hondo Arriba Land Grant, thanked the delegation for its support, saying he has a “historical attachment and family anchors” to the Columbine-Hondo. He said his ancestors raised livestock, collected medicinal plants and gathered firewood from the area. Argüello spoke to the area’s importance as a watershed and irrigation source and said wilderness protection would be the best way to protect the area for the good of land grant heirs.
    “Restorative justice is social justice and justice for all,” Argüello said.

    Udall said those gathered made a “tremendously compelling case” for a wilderness designation for the Columbine-Hondo. He asked whether the form of the legislation introduced in 2012 was still acceptable to everyone, and no one objected.

    The bill Bingaman introduced last year included concessions for mountain bikers and land conveyances to the villages of Red River and Taos Ski Valley. Taos Ski Valley would receive 4.6 acres of National Forest System land for the municipality’s wastewater treatment plant; Red River would receive four parcels on which to locate a wastewater treatment plant, a cemetery, a public park and a public road.

    Taos Ski Valley administrator Mark Fratrick said the legislation is of the “utmost importance” to the village, both for the economic benefits a wilderness area and new mountain bike trails would bring, as well as for the conveyance, which would allow the village to seek funding for its much-needed treatment plant. Red River Mayor Linda Calhoun said the mountains surrounding Red River are essential to the viability of businesses there. She said being surrounded by National Forest land can also restrict future growth, however, and the land conveyances are important for municipal needs.

    Heinrich said as an outfitter/guide he used to bring groups to raft and backpack in Taos County every summer. He referred to the Columbine-Hondo as “one of the best-kept secrets in the Southern Rockies.”
    “To be a part of this is really quite special to me,” he said.

    He said he is hopeful for an omnibus lands bill that would include the Columbine-Hondo during this session of Congress, though he referred to Washington, D.C., “gridlock” as the effort’s “worst enemy.”
    “With this group, there’s nothing we can’t get done,” Heinrich said to those gathered.

    The 236,000-acre Río Grande del Norte area was also the subject of some discussion during the delegation’s visit. Legislation Bingaman introduced last year to create a National Conservation Area, including two wildernesses, did not pass, and entreaties to President Obama to create a National Monument around the area were also unsuccessful. The legislation was reintroduced earlier this month.

    Heinrich also said he had a conversation with the president about two weeks ago about protecting the Río Grande del Norte and came away from it “very, very positive and optimistic.”

    For more information about the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Coalition, visit www.columbinehondo.org. For more information about the Río Grande del Norte, visit www.riograndedelnorte.org

  • By Matthew van Buren, The Taos News
    February 21, 2013

    Two U.S. senators and a congressman visited Arroyo Seco last weekend to discuss the permanent protection of public lands in Taos County.

    During their Saturday (Feb. 16) visit, Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Rep. Ben Ray Luján, all Democrats from New Mexico, heard from those who would like to see full wilderness protection for the 46,000-acre Columbine-Hondo area north of Taos. Several dozen wilderness supporters, including elected officials, business owners and nonprofit representatives, gathered at the Rivers and Birds offices in Arroyo Seco to hear legislative updates and urge federal action to protect the Columbine-Hondo.

    The Columbine-Hondo was designated a Wilderness Study Area three decades ago. Last year, then-Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-NM, introduced legislation to bring full wilderness protection to the area, but it did not pass. Michael Casaus, state director for the Wilderness Society, said the 112th Congress was the first in decades not to protect a single acre of wilderness.

    Questa Mayor Esther García said village residents respect public lands as communal property, and she supports the creation of the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness as a way to protect watersheds and traditional uses of the land. Taos Town Councilor Andrew Gonzales described the Columbine-Hondo as a “major watershed” with historical, cultural and economic significance.

    Rafting guide Cisco Guevara said a wilderness designation would help stimulate business in the area, and he said water from the Columbine-Hondo is “essential for summer river levels.” Outfitter Stuart Wilde said his clients come to Taos County for “solitude and natural beauty,” which they find in the Columbine-Hondo and Río Grande Gorge.“Conservation is good for business here in Northern New Mexico,” he said.

    Grazing permittee Erminio Martínez said his grandfather grazed cattle in the Columbine-Hondo before New Mexico gained statehood, and Martínez continues the tradition. He urged the dignitaries to protect the area from mining and timber threats while preserving traditional uses.
    “My family has a long history in the Columbine-Hondo,” he said. “It is a beautiful piece of this planet.”

    David Argüello, president of the Arroyo Hondo Arriba Land Grant, thanked the delegation for its support, saying he has a “historical attachment and family anchors” to the Columbine-Hondo. He said his ancestors raised livestock, collected medicinal plants and gathered firewood from the area. Argüello spoke to the area’s importance as a watershed and irrigation source and said wilderness protection would be the best way to protect the area for the good of land grant heirs.
    “Restorative justice is social justice and justice for all,” Argüello said.

    Udall said those gathered made a “tremendously compelling case” for a wilderness designation for the Columbine-Hondo. He asked whether the form of the legislation introduced in 2012 was still acceptable to everyone, and no one objected.

    The bill Bingaman introduced last year included concessions for mountain bikers and land conveyances to the villages of Red River and Taos Ski Valley. Taos Ski Valley would receive 4.6 acres of National Forest System land for the municipality’s wastewater treatment plant; Red River would receive four parcels on which to locate a wastewater treatment plant, a cemetery, a public park and a public road.

    Taos Ski Valley administrator Mark Fratrick said the legislation is of the “utmost importance” to the village, both for the economic benefits a wilderness area and new mountain bike trails would bring, as well as for the conveyance, which would allow the village to seek funding for its much-needed treatment plant. Red River Mayor Linda Calhoun said the mountains surrounding Red River are essential to the viability of businesses there. She said being surrounded by National Forest land can also restrict future growth, however, and the land conveyances are important for municipal needs.

    Heinrich said as an outfitter/guide he used to bring groups to raft and backpack in Taos County every summer. He referred to the Columbine-Hondo as “one of the best-kept secrets in the Southern Rockies.”
    “To be a part of this is really quite special to me,” he said.

    He said he is hopeful for an omnibus lands bill that would include the Columbine-Hondo during this session of Congress, though he referred to Washington, D.C., “gridlock” as the effort’s “worst enemy.”
    “With this group, there’s nothing we can’t get done,” Heinrich said to those gathered.

    The 236,000-acre Río Grande del Norte area was also the subject of some discussion during the delegation’s visit. Legislation Bingaman introduced last year to create a National Conservation Area, including two wildernesses, did not pass, and entreaties to President Obama to create a National Monument around the area were also unsuccessful. The legislation was reintroduced earlier this month.

    Heinrich also said he had a conversation with the president about two weeks ago about protecting the Río Grande del Norte and came away from it “very, very positive and optimistic.”

    For more information about the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Coalition, visit www.columbinehondo.org. For more information about the Río Grande del Norte, visit www.riograndedelnorte.org

  • By Matthew van Buren, The Taos News
    February 21, 2013

    Two U.S. senators and a congressman visited Arroyo Seco last weekend to discuss the permanent protection of public lands in Taos County.

    During their Saturday (Feb. 16) visit, Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Rep. Ben Ray Luján, all Democrats from New Mexico, heard from those who would like to see full wilderness protection for the 46,000-acre Columbine-Hondo area north of Taos. Several dozen wilderness supporters, including elected officials, business owners and nonprofit representatives, gathered at the Rivers and Birds offices in Arroyo Seco to hear legislative updates and urge federal action to protect the Columbine-Hondo.

    The Columbine-Hondo was designated a Wilderness Study Area three decades ago. Last year, then-Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-NM, introduced legislation to bring full wilderness protection to the area, but it did not pass. Michael Casaus, state director for the Wilderness Society, said the 112th Congress was the first in decades not to protect a single acre of wilderness.

    Questa Mayor Esther García said village residents respect public lands as communal property, and she supports the creation of the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness as a way to protect watersheds and traditional uses of the land. Taos Town Councilor Andrew Gonzales described the Columbine-Hondo as a “major watershed” with historical, cultural and economic significance.

    Rafting guide Cisco Guevara said a wilderness designation would help stimulate business in the area, and he said water from the Columbine-Hondo is “essential for summer river levels.” Outfitter Stuart Wilde said his clients come to Taos County for “solitude and natural beauty,” which they find in the Columbine-Hondo and Río Grande Gorge.“Conservation is good for business here in Northern New Mexico,” he said.

    Grazing permittee Erminio Martínez said his grandfather grazed cattle in the Columbine-Hondo before New Mexico gained statehood, and Martínez continues the tradition. He urged the dignitaries to protect the area from mining and timber threats while preserving traditional uses.
    “My family has a long history in the Columbine-Hondo,” he said. “It is a beautiful piece of this planet.”

    David Argüello, president of the Arroyo Hondo Arriba Land Grant, thanked the delegation for its support, saying he has a “historical attachment and family anchors” to the Columbine-Hondo. He said his ancestors raised livestock, collected medicinal plants and gathered firewood from the area. Argüello spoke to the area’s importance as a watershed and irrigation source and said wilderness protection would be the best way to protect the area for the good of land grant heirs.
    “Restorative justice is social justice and justice for all,” Argüello said.

    Udall said those gathered made a “tremendously compelling case” for a wilderness designation for the Columbine-Hondo. He asked whether the form of the legislation introduced in 2012 was still acceptable to everyone, and no one objected.

    The bill Bingaman introduced last year included concessions for mountain bikers and land conveyances to the villages of Red River and Taos Ski Valley. Taos Ski Valley would receive 4.6 acres of National Forest System land for the municipality’s wastewater treatment plant; Red River would receive four parcels on which to locate a wastewater treatment plant, a cemetery, a public park and a public road.

    Taos Ski Valley administrator Mark Fratrick said the legislation is of the “utmost importance” to the village, both for the economic benefits a wilderness area and new mountain bike trails would bring, as well as for the conveyance, which would allow the village to seek funding for its much-needed treatment plant. Red River Mayor Linda Calhoun said the mountains surrounding Red River are essential to the viability of businesses there. She said being surrounded by National Forest land can also restrict future growth, however, and the land conveyances are important for municipal needs.

    Heinrich said as an outfitter/guide he used to bring groups to raft and backpack in Taos County every summer. He referred to the Columbine-Hondo as “one of the best-kept secrets in the Southern Rockies.”
    “To be a part of this is really quite special to me,” he said.

    He said he is hopeful for an omnibus lands bill that would include the Columbine-Hondo during this session of Congress, though he referred to Washington, D.C., “gridlock” as the effort’s “worst enemy.”
    “With this group, there’s nothing we can’t get done,” Heinrich said to those gathered.

    The 236,000-acre Río Grande del Norte area was also the subject of some discussion during the delegation’s visit. Legislation Bingaman introduced last year to create a National Conservation Area, including two wildernesses, did not pass, and entreaties to President Obama to create a National Monument around the area were also unsuccessful. The legislation was reintroduced earlier this month.

    Heinrich also said he had a conversation with the president about two weeks ago about protecting the Río Grande del Norte and came away from it “very, very positive and optimistic.”

    For more information about the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Coalition, visit www.columbinehondo.org. For more information about the Río Grande del Norte, visit www.riograndedelnorte.org

  • This morning we need your help to stop radical efforts that threaten the Rio Grande del Norte, Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, Bosque del Apache, and 19 million more acres of our public lands.

    HB 292 and its companion SB 404 (the Transfer of Public Lands Act) will be heard in the House Health, Government & Indian Affairs Committee and Senate Conservation Committees, respectively, this Thursday, February 14 (today). 

    This bill would cost New Mexico more than $200 million per year, result in the loss of 2000 jobs, and allow drilling, mining, and industrial development to run roughshod over our wild public lands!  This bill would threaten public access to millions of acres where we hike, camp, hunt, and fish! Places like Bosque del Apache, the Pecos Mountains, Organ Mountains, Valles Caldera, Valle Vidal, Rio Grande Gorge, and Sandia Mountains could be sold and developed.

    Most legal scholars have concluded that bills like this are unconstitutional, so New Mexico would be in for a costly legal battle. It would cost $500,000 just to create a taskforce to study the idea.  If implemented, this bill would eliminate thousands of jobs and damage our $3.8 billion outdoor recreation economy.

    It only takes minute to call or e-mail your legislators to let them know why you oppose this land grab bill.

    House of Representatives Health, Government and Indian Affairs Committee 

    James Roger Madalena: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (505) 986-4840

    Nick L. Salazar: (505) 986-4433

    Alonzo Baldonado: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,  (505) 986-4227

    Kelly K. Fajardo: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (505) 986-4220

    Nate Gentry: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (505) 986-4757

    Yvette Herrell: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (505) 986-4248

    Emily Kane: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (505) 986-4464

    Rodolpho “Rudy” S. Martinez: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (505) 986-4235

    Terry H. McMillan: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (505) 986-4450

    Elizabeth “Liz” Thomson: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (505) 986-4255

    Luciano “Lucky” Varela: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (505) 986-4320

    Senate Conservation Committee 

    Peter Wirth: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (505) 986-4861

    Benny Shendo, Jr.:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (505) 986-4310

    Joseph Cervantes:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (505) 986-4385

    Phil A. Griego: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.(505) 986-4513

    Richard C. Martinez: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (505) 986-4487

    William H. Payne: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (505) 986-4703

    William E. Sharer: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (505) 986-4381

    William P. Soules: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (505) 986-4856

    Pat Woods: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (505) 986-4393

    John C. Ryan:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,  (505) 986-4373

  • Press release from USFWS
    June 7, 2013

    Mexican wolves in Southwest would continue to be protected as endangered subspecies

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed to remove the gray wolf (Canis lupus) from the list of threatened and endangered species. The proposal comes after a comprehensive review confirmed its successful recovery following management actions undertaken by federal, state and local partners following the wolf’s listing under the Endangered Species Act over three decades ago. The Service is also proposing to maintain protection and expand recovery efforts for the Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) in the Southwest, where it remains endangered. 

    Under the proposal, state wildlife management agency professionals would resume responsibility for management and protection of gray wolves in states where wolves occur. The proposed rule is based on the best science available and incorporates new information about the gray wolf’s current and historical distribution in the contiguous United States and Mexico. It focuses the protection on the Mexican wolf, the only remaining entity that warrants protection under the Act, by designating the Mexican wolf as an endangered subspecies. 

    In the Western Great Lakes and Northern Rocky Mountains, the gray wolf has rebounded from the brink of extinction to exceed population targets by as much as 300 percent. Gray wolf populations in the Western Great Lakes and Northern Rocky Mountain Distinct Population Segments were removed from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in 2011 and 2012. 

    “From the moment a species requires the protection of the Endangered Species Act, our goal is to work with our partners to address the threats it faces and ensure its recovery,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “An exhaustive review of the latest scientific and taxonomic information shows that we have accomplished that goal with the gray wolf, allowing us to focus our work under the ESA on recovery of the Mexican wolf subspecies in the Southwest.”

    The Service will open a 90-day comment period on both proposals seeking additional scientific, commercial and technical information from the public and other interested parties. The comment period will commence upon publication of the proposed rules in the Federal Register. Relevant information received during this comment period will be reviewed and addressed in the Service’s final determination on these proposals, which will be made in 2014. The Service must receive requests for public hearings, in writing, within 45 days of the publication in the Federal Register. 

    Information on how to provide comments will be made available in the Federal Register notices and on the Service’s wolf information page at www.fws.gov/graywolfrecovery062013.html.

    The Service’s proposal is supported by governors and state wildlife agency leadership in each of the states with current wolf populations, as well as those that will assume responsibility for managing wolves dispersing into their states, such as Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Utah and North Dakota. 

    “With a solid state conservation and management plan in place for the Northern gray wolf, an experienced wildlife management agency that is committed to wolf recovery, and established populations recovering at an increasing rate, Oregon is ready to take on further responsibility for wolf management in this state,” said Roy Elicker, Director of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

    “We know that there are questions that need to be resolved in moving toward a delisting of the Northern gray wolf under the federal ESA, and we believe the rulemaking process is an appropriate forum to address these issues. Oregon is supportive of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service publishing a proposed rule to begin this dialogue, and we look forward to participating in the scientific review process.” 

    “The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is firmly committed to the long-term persistence of wolves in Washington,” said Miranda Wecker, Chair of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission. “The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission believes the state should be responsible for the management of wolves and supports the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s consideration of delisting gray wolves under the federal Endangered Species Act. By publishing the proposed rule, the Service ensures this important consideration can take place in an open and public process.”

    The Service’s comprehensive review determined that the current listing for gray wolf, which was developed 35 years ago, erroneously included large geographical areas outside the species’ historical range. In addition, the review found that the current gray wolf listing did not reasonably represent the range of the only remaining of the Mexican wolf population in the Southwest. 

    Gray wolves were extirpated from most of the Lower 48 states by the middle of the 20th century, with the exception of northern Minnesota and Isle Royale in Michigan. Subsequently, wolves from Canada occasionally dispersed south and successfully began recolonizing northwest Montana in 1986. In 1995 and 1996, 66 wolves from southwestern Canada were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho. 

    In 2002 the Northern Rocky Mountain population exceeded the minimum recovery goals of 300 wolves for a third straight year, and they were successfully delisted in the Northern Rocky Mountains in 2012 and Western Great Lakes in 2011. Today, there are at least 6,100 gray wolves in the contiguous United States, with a current estimate of 1,674 in the Northern Rocky Mountains and 4,432 in the Western Great Lakes.

    The number of Mexican wolves continues to increase within the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area. During the 2012 annual year-end survey, the Mexican wolf Interagency Field Team counted a minimum of 75 Mexican wolves in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico, an increase over the 2011 minimum population count of 58 wolves known to exist in the wild. 

    In addition to listing the Mexican wolf as an endangered subspecies, the Service proposes to modify existing regulations governing the nonessential experimental population to allow captive raised wolves to be released throughout the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area in the Apache and Gila National Forests east central Arizona and west central New Mexico, and to disperse into the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area in the areas of Arizona and New Mexico located between I 40 and I 10.

  • On Saturday March 30, 2013 Taoseños celebrated the designation of the Rio Grande del Norte as the nation’s newest National Monument. The celebration followed President Obama signing legislation March 25 setting aside 242,555 acres in Northern New Mexico for the monument. The March 30 celebration at the Taos Mesa Brewing Company included numerous federal, state and local dignitaries in attendance including U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, former Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Martin Heinrich and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan as well as Questa Mayor Esther Garcia and Taos Mayor Darren Cordova. Video shot by Rick Romancito exclusively for The Taos News Media Center. Editing by Romancito House Media

  • On Saturday March 30, 2013 Taoseños celebrated the designation of the Rio Grande del Norte as the nation’s newest National Monument. The celebration followed President Obama signing legislation March 25 setting aside 242,555 acres in Northern New Mexico for the monument. The March 30 celebration at the Taos Mesa Brewing Company included numerous federal, state and local dignitaries in attendance including U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, former Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Martin Heinrich and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan as well as Questa Mayor Esther Garcia and Taos Mayor Darren Cordova. Video shot by Rick Romancito exclusively for The Taos News Media Center. Editing by Romancito House Media

  • By Leslie Linthicum / Albuquerque Journal 
    Apr 14, 2013

    UTE MOUNTAIN — The focal point of the new Rio Grande del Norte National Monument is, fittingly, the Rio Grande.

    The deep river gorge, a 600-foot jagged chasm, cuts the length of the new monument and provides opportunities for rafting, kayaking, fishing, biking, camping and hiking while offering sightseers some of the state’s most dramatic views.

    But the river canyon is just a sliver of the huge new monument, which stretches nearly 30 miles across at its widest point and from Pilar all the way north to the Colorado border. It encompasses more than 242,000 acres (by comparison, Bandelier National Monument spans about 33,000 acres), and much of that land is raw, remote and generally untraveled, a flat expanse of sagebrush and grass dotted by volcanic cones that push up from the high desert floor.

    It’s wildland, so devoid of roads and trails and water and so open to the wind and the sun that it feels like a challenge to enter it and spend some time. I took a look at the new Rio Grande del Norte monument last week from atop one of its most notable geographical features — Ute Mountain, the monument’s high point, which sits like a green dome a few miles shy of the Colorado border.
    Ute Mountain, an extinct volcano, dominates the landscape on the Taos Plateau. Its summit is the highest point in the new Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. (GREG SORBER/JOURNAL)

    Ute Mountain is a perfect example of all that is wonderful about the new national monument and all that is a challenge. With a rise of 2,500 feet, the former volcano lies like a sleeping giant in the midst of sage flats and grain fields. It manages to dominate the landscape and cry out “Climb me!” even though it is dwarfed by the higher, showier massifs of the nearby Sangre de Cristos.

    Getting to the base of the mountain is a seat-of-the-pants effort on dirt roads and a hike to the top involves following well-used elk trails — and encountering many of the elk that made them. It’s a steep bushwhack through ponderosa, aspen and Douglas fir to the summit at 10,093 feet, which is marked by a rock cairn and a rusted tin can hung on a juniper pole. The peanut butter jar that holds the summit log shows that my husband and I are the first to have made the summit in the past six months.

    The view from the top is its own reward. Clusters of white peaks dominate the distance on the north side: Costilla, Culebra, Blanca, Crestone. On the south side, the new national monument stretches out in tawny expanse interrupted only by the round mounds of Ute Mountain’s sister cones and the jagged scar of the river gorge.

    Efforts to preserve this large, undeveloped chunk of northern New Mexico have been under way for years, and in March the president bypassed efforts in Congress and signed a presidential order creating the national monument designation under the Antiquities Act.

    The designation provides protections for the land but doesn’t prevent trail building, roadwork or other “improvements.” The Bureau of Land Management has three years to complete a management plan for the area, and Sam DesGeorges, the BLM’s Taos-area director, said the bureau’s default position will be to leave it alone.

    “You don’t want to pave paradise,” he said. “A great majority of the monument will remain the way it is.”

    Nevertheless, DesGeorges said he anticipates a bump in visitors. A recent study of how tourists use the area estimated that 325,000 people visit each year and spend about $19 million. The study estimated that a national monument designation might nearly double those numbers.

    But DesGeorges said most of those new visitors would be attracted to the river corridor, where a good 80 percent of the monument’s activity occurs.

    As to the great expanse west of the river, the land of volcanic cones and great wide-open? He said he doesn’t anticipate creating or improving dirt roads there or building trails, opting instead to develop interpretive material that explains its history of paleolithic mammoth hunting and preserve its wildness for the more adventurous visitors who are willing to rough it to spend time in stark solitude.

    Many pieces of wilderness have been made accessible and then overrun by people who inadvertently love it to death. The Rio Grande del Norte is a perfect place for a different management approach: Love it and leave it alone.

    UpFront is a daily front-page news and opinion column. Comment directly to Leslie at 823-3914 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  • By Leslie Linthicum / Albuquerque Journal 
    Apr 14, 2013

    UTE MOUNTAIN — The focal point of the new Rio Grande del Norte National Monument is, fittingly, the Rio Grande.

    The deep river gorge, a 600-foot jagged chasm, cuts the length of the new monument and provides opportunities for rafting, kayaking, fishing, biking, camping and hiking while offering sightseers some of the state’s most dramatic views.

    But the river canyon is just a sliver of the huge new monument, which stretches nearly 30 miles across at its widest point and from Pilar all the way north to the Colorado border. It encompasses more than 242,000 acres (by comparison, Bandelier National Monument spans about 33,000 acres), and much of that land is raw, remote and generally untraveled, a flat expanse of sagebrush and grass dotted by volcanic cones that push up from the high desert floor.

    It’s wildland, so devoid of roads and trails and water and so open to the wind and the sun that it feels like a challenge to enter it and spend some time. I took a look at the new Rio Grande del Norte monument last week from atop one of its most notable geographical features — Ute Mountain, the monument’s high point, which sits like a green dome a few miles shy of the Colorado border.
    Ute Mountain, an extinct volcano, dominates the landscape on the Taos Plateau. Its summit is the highest point in the new Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. (GREG SORBER/JOURNAL)

    Ute Mountain is a perfect example of all that is wonderful about the new national monument and all that is a challenge. With a rise of 2,500 feet, the former volcano lies like a sleeping giant in the midst of sage flats and grain fields. It manages to dominate the landscape and cry out “Climb me!” even though it is dwarfed by the higher, showier massifs of the nearby Sangre de Cristos.

    Getting to the base of the mountain is a seat-of-the-pants effort on dirt roads and a hike to the top involves following well-used elk trails — and encountering many of the elk that made them. It’s a steep bushwhack through ponderosa, aspen and Douglas fir to the summit at 10,093 feet, which is marked by a rock cairn and a rusted tin can hung on a juniper pole. The peanut butter jar that holds the summit log shows that my husband and I are the first to have made the summit in the past six months.

    The view from the top is its own reward. Clusters of white peaks dominate the distance on the north side: Costilla, Culebra, Blanca, Crestone. On the south side, the new national monument stretches out in tawny expanse interrupted only by the round mounds of Ute Mountain’s sister cones and the jagged scar of the river gorge.

    Efforts to preserve this large, undeveloped chunk of northern New Mexico have been under way for years, and in March the president bypassed efforts in Congress and signed a presidential order creating the national monument designation under the Antiquities Act.

    The designation provides protections for the land but doesn’t prevent trail building, roadwork or other “improvements.” The Bureau of Land Management has three years to complete a management plan for the area, and Sam DesGeorges, the BLM’s Taos-area director, said the bureau’s default position will be to leave it alone.

    “You don’t want to pave paradise,” he said. “A great majority of the monument will remain the way it is.”

    Nevertheless, DesGeorges said he anticipates a bump in visitors. A recent study of how tourists use the area estimated that 325,000 people visit each year and spend about $19 million. The study estimated that a national monument designation might nearly double those numbers.

    But DesGeorges said most of those new visitors would be attracted to the river corridor, where a good 80 percent of the monument’s activity occurs.

    As to the great expanse west of the river, the land of volcanic cones and great wide-open? He said he doesn’t anticipate creating or improving dirt roads there or building trails, opting instead to develop interpretive material that explains its history of paleolithic mammoth hunting and preserve its wildness for the more adventurous visitors who are willing to rough it to spend time in stark solitude.

    Many pieces of wilderness have been made accessible and then overrun by people who inadvertently love it to death. The Rio Grande del Norte is a perfect place for a different management approach: Love it and leave it alone.

    UpFront is a daily front-page news and opinion column. Comment directly to Leslie at 823-3914 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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  • For Immediate Release

    Contact:           Lisa Eidson

    Wilderness50 Media/Publicity Chair

    Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Phone: 406-396-3607

     

    The 50th Anniversary National Wilderness Planning Team (Wilderness50) is pleased to announce the launch of http://www.wilderness50th.org, a new website dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. “Having a website of its own will give Wilderness50 and all the exciting preparations for the 50th anniversary of our wilderness system a much more immediate and vibrant appeal to folks around the country,” said Vicky Hoover, Wilderness50 co-chair and longtime wilderness advocate and volunteer.

    The website honors 50 years of preservation, use and enjoyment of wilderness by:

    • Cataloging all local, regional, and national 50th anniversary events, meetings, programs, and projects occurring between now and 2014 and dedicated to raising awareness of wilderness. As event planning escalates this year, event hosts and organizers are encouraged to enter their events onto the map and calendar.
    • Providing resources and materials for people and organizations interested in hosting or organizing 50thanniversary local community events. Possible events can include Walks for Wilderness; outings and service trips; museum, airport, or visitor center exhibits; speakers; interpretive programs; trainings or workshops; photography or writing contests; art shows; music or dance programs; book or poetry readings; stewardship projects and more.
    • Providing information about the National Wilderness Conference, to be held October 15-19, 2014 in Albuquerque, NM. This event will be Wilderness50’s premier forum for discussing the growing challenges of perpetuating the values of wilderness in a time of unprecedented environmental and social change.

    Please join Wilderness50 in celebrating “50 Years of American Wilderness” by visiting http://www.wilderness50th.org. Enter your email address on the home page to sign up for future key 50thupdates.

    Wilderness50 is a coalition of more than 25 non-profit organizations, academic institutions, and government agencies that is planning and implementing local, regional, and national events and projects. This coalition is charged with raising public awareness of wilderness and engaging youth during 2014, the 50th anniversary year. Our nation’s wilderness system was established in 1964 for the use and enjoyment of the American people and provides many direct and in-direct benefits, such as those relating to ecological, geological, scientific, educational, scenic, spiritual, economic, recreational, historical, and cultural uses and activities.  The 758 wilderness areas that exist today are managed by all four federal land managing agencies, the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, and National Park Service. You can learn more about Wilderness50 by visiting our website at http://www.wilderness50th.org or you can follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/50thAnniversaryOfTheWildernessAct and Twitter at http://twitter.com/wild50th.

  • For Immediate Release
    March 19, 2013

    Contact: Lisa Eidson
    Wilderness50 Media/Publicity Chair
    Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    Phone: 406-396-3607

    The 50th Anniversary National Wilderness Planning Team (Wilderness50) is pleased to announce the launch of http://www.wilderness50th.org, a new website dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. “Having a website of its own will give Wilderness50 and all the exciting preparations for the 50th anniversary of our wilderness system a much more immediate and vibrant appeal to folks around the country,” said Vicky Hoover, Wilderness50 co-chair and longtime wilderness advocate and volunteer.

    The website honors 50 years of preservation, use and enjoyment of wilderness by:

    • Cataloging all local, regional, and national 50th anniversary events, meetings, programs, and projects occurring between now and 2014 and dedicated to raising awareness of wilderness. As event planning escalates this year, event hosts and organizers are encouraged to enter their events onto the map and calendar.
    • Providing resources and materials for people and organizations interested in hosting or organizing 50th anniversary local community events. Possible events can include Walks for Wilderness; outings and service trips; museum, airport, or visitor center exhibits; speakers; interpretive programs; trainings or workshops; photography or writing contests; art shows; music or dance programs; book or poetry readings; stewardship projects and more.
    • Providing information about the National Wilderness Conference, to be held October 15-19, 2014 in Albuquerque, NM. This event will be Wilderness50’s premier forum for discussing the growing challenges of perpetuating the values of wilderness in a time of unprecedented environmental and social change.

    Please join Wilderness50 in celebrating “50 Years of American Wilderness” by visiting http://www.wilderness50th.org. Enter your email address on the home page to sign up for future key 50th updates.

    Wilderness50 is a coalition of more than 25 non-profit organizations, academic institutions, and government agencies that is planning and implementing local, regional, and national events and projects. This coalition is charged with raising public awareness of wilderness and engaging youth during 2014, the 50th anniversary year. Our nation’s wilderness system was established in 1964 for the use and enjoyment of the American people and provides many direct and in-direct benefits, such as those relating to ecological, geological, scientific, educational, scenic, spiritual, economic, recreational, historical, and cultural uses and activities.  The 758 wilderness areas that exist today are managed by all four federal land managing agencies, the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, and National Park Service. You can learn more about Wilderness50 by visiting our website at http://www.wilderness50th.org or you can follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/50thAnniversaryOfTheWildernessAct and Twitter at http://twitter.com/wild50th.

    ###

  • The Denver Post 
    By Rev. Lucia Guzman and Nita J. Gonzales

    When our good friend Ken Salazar leaves the Department of Interior this month, he will leave a legacy of hard work, which Theodore Roosevelt called “the best prize that life has to offer.”

    Over the past four years, Salazar has shown a steadfast commitment to preserving our Western economy and way of life by pursuing a balanced energy policy on our public lands, championing funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and working to ensure the protection of places like Chimney Rock and Rio Grande del Norte.

    When President Obama selected him to lead the Department of Interior four years ago, Salazar inherited an agency that was plagued by scandal and mismanagement, one known for its coziness with the oil and gas industry. Today, the agency stands as an independent institution rooted in integrity and right-minded science-based policies, not cronyism and undue political influence.

    Salazar was instrumental in the designation of four new national monuments, including Chimney Rock National Monument here in Colorado. Together with Sen. Michael Bennet and Congressman Scott Tipton, Salazar responded to the requests of local businesses owners, tribal leaders, and elected officials, and urged the president to recognize the cultural significance and economic impact of Chimney Rock, which he did by declaring it a National Monument last year.

    Salazar also has been an advocate for protecting Rio Grande del Norte, an area in Northern New Mexico that is recognized for its prized wildlife habitat, Hispanic and tribal cultural significance, and its vital contribution to the local recreation-based economy.

    Salazar traveled to Taos late last year to meet with community leaders and local business owners who expressed support for the area’s protection. Our hope is that the administration finalizes protection for Rio Grande del Norte before the secretary leaves office, and that similar designation will come for Browns Canyon in the Arkansas Valley, another place that the secretary has fought to protect.

    Salazar has consistently proven that he understands the critical role that water plays in sustaining our most vital industries, from farming and ranching to outdoor recreation. Through his leadership, Interior established a new strategy to pursue a sustainable water supply for the nation, including conservation and more efficient use of existing water resources. Salazar supported a balanced oil shale leasing plan, which protected local business owners and the regional economy of western Colorado, while also safeguarding critical water supplies during record drought and 1.6 million acres of wilderness-quality public lands from speculative development.

    Salazar can also count among his successes his strong support for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), as he stood up against those in Congress who want to drastically cut or raid the fund despite the fact that it comes entirely from oil and gas leases, not taxpayers. He has made the program a centerpiece of America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, which he modeled after Great Outdoors Colorado.

    Selfishly, we are happy to have Salazar back in Colorado. For the sake of our Western heritage and way of life, we hope that Sally Jewell, who President Obama has selected to replace Salazar, will continue to work to restore balance to the management and use of our public lands.

    The Rev. Lucia Guzman is president pro tempore of the Colorado State Senate, where she represents District 34. Nita J. Gonzales is president and CEO of Escuela Tlateloco in Denver and co-founder of the Colorado Latino Forum.

  • The Denver Post 
    By Rev. Lucia Guzman and Nita J. Gonzales

    When our good friend Ken Salazar leaves the Department of Interior this month, he will leave a legacy of hard work, which Theodore Roosevelt called “the best prize that life has to offer.”

    Over the past four years, Salazar has shown a steadfast commitment to preserving our Western economy and way of life by pursuing a balanced energy policy on our public lands, championing funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and working to ensure the protection of places like Chimney Rock and Rio Grande del Norte.

    When President Obama selected him to lead the Department of Interior four years ago, Salazar inherited an agency that was plagued by scandal and mismanagement, one known for its coziness with the oil and gas industry. Today, the agency stands as an independent institution rooted in integrity and right-minded science-based policies, not cronyism and undue political influence.

    Salazar was instrumental in the designation of four new national monuments, including Chimney Rock National Monument here in Colorado. Together with Sen. Michael Bennet and Congressman Scott Tipton, Salazar responded to the requests of local businesses owners, tribal leaders, and elected officials, and urged the president to recognize the cultural significance and economic impact of Chimney Rock, which he did by declaring it a National Monument last year.

    Salazar also has been an advocate for protecting Rio Grande del Norte, an area in Northern New Mexico that is recognized for its prized wildlife habitat, Hispanic and tribal cultural significance, and its vital contribution to the local recreation-based economy.

    Salazar traveled to Taos late last year to meet with community leaders and local business owners who expressed support for the area’s protection. Our hope is that the administration finalizes protection for Rio Grande del Norte before the secretary leaves office, and that similar designation will come for Browns Canyon in the Arkansas Valley, another place that the secretary has fought to protect.

    Salazar has consistently proven that he understands the critical role that water plays in sustaining our most vital industries, from farming and ranching to outdoor recreation. Through his leadership, Interior established a new strategy to pursue a sustainable water supply for the nation, including conservation and more efficient use of existing water resources. Salazar supported a balanced oil shale leasing plan, which protected local business owners and the regional economy of western Colorado, while also safeguarding critical water supplies during record drought and 1.6 million acres of wilderness-quality public lands from speculative development.

    Salazar can also count among his successes his strong support for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), as he stood up against those in Congress who want to drastically cut or raid the fund despite the fact that it comes entirely from oil and gas leases, not taxpayers. He has made the program a centerpiece of America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, which he modeled after Great Outdoors Colorado.

    Selfishly, we are happy to have Salazar back in Colorado. For the sake of our Western heritage and way of life, we hope that Sally Jewell, who President Obama has selected to replace Salazar, will continue to work to restore balance to the management and use of our public lands.

    The Rev. Lucia Guzman is president pro tempore of the Colorado State Senate, where she represents District 34. Nita J. Gonzales is president and CEO of Escuela Tlateloco in Denver and co-founder of the Colorado Latino Forum.

  • Check out the Thanksgiving edition of Wilderness Weekly to see what NM Wild is thankful for!

    Read now.

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    2015 10 14 11 08 57

  • Donate Online

    2015 10 14 11 08 57

  • Aluquerque Journal
    Michael Coleman
    Thursday, November 21, 2013

    Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall urged a Senate subcommittee Wednesday to support designating 46,000 acres in Taos County, commonly referred to as the Columbine-Hondo, as a federally protected wilderness area.

    The New Mexico Democrats introduced legislation to designate the area as wilderness in April. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., has introduced a similar bill in the House.

    Udall and Heinrich told a Senate Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee that there is broad community support for the designation and that it would safeguard recreational opportunities and water resources. The land is home to the headwaters of the second- and third-largest tributaries of the Rio Grande, Heinrich said.

    “In an arid Western state like New Mexico, there is nothing more valuable than our water resources,” Heinrich said. “We need to do everything we can to protect those resources.”

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