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Max O. Trujillo II in the Santa Fe New Mexican
June 1, 2013

I am a native New Mexican, and I have been fortunate enough to traverse over much of our state’s wilderness areas while hunting, fishing and hiking. I have also hunted, fished and hiked on state trust land, Bureau of Land Management land, park service land and national forest land.

My experiences are great in all the aforementioned places, but my experiences in our wilderness areas stand out above the rest by a long shot. There are sights, smells, views and sounds in a wilderness that have no comparison. The wildlife even acts differently in a wilderness. Where else can you go and handfeed a wild bighorn sheep, or have a Rocky Mountain mockingbird land on your lap while resting during a hunt?

Wilderness areas are extremely important to our sports of hunting and fishing. In Northern New Mexico, the Columbine Hondo Wilderness Coalition is one such area. Thanks to strong community support and involvement by our Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall, and Congressman Ben Ray Luján, legislation was recently introduced to permanently designate the area as wilderness.

The area consists of about 45,000 acres of pristine country located between two existing wilderness areas near Questa and Red River. The act to designate the Columbine Hondo Wilderness would create contiguous portions of wilderness in the area and would provide increased opportunities for hunters and anglers to experience the true wilderness. As an a avid hunter and angler and a representative of the oldest and largest sportsmen’s organization in New Mexico, I can say that on behalf of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, we support the communities that will benefit greatly from the designation. We thank our senators and members of Congress who have brought the Columbine Hondo Wilderness legislation to the table.

Since 1980, the Columbine Hondo Wilderness Study Area has been managed as wilderness, so the way the area is managed will not change by a designation to permanent wilderness. Conversely, the designation will make 45,000 acres of beautiful country to hunt and fish on a permanent reality for us. It also will remain a place for traditional users of this land to continue to graze their animals, collect medicinal herbs and keep the fabric of our culture intact while having access in perpetuity to a place that is as wild as wild can be.

Max O. Trujillo II is a sportsman coordinator for Northern New Mexico New Mexico Wildlife Federation and lives in Las Vegas, N.M.

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