Public Lands

Public Lands

El Paso activists join Otero Mesa team

Otero Mesa

By Dan Lorimier, Chapter Conservation Coordinator

In November 2013, El Paso Group activists met to create a campaign plan to gain National Monument status for Otero Mesa. The plan calls for grassroots education and volunteer opportunities as well as media, ecological and Congressional profile-raising and awareness in the area.

This is a new and important voice from Rio Grande Chapter Texans for permanently protecting this vast area that boasts iconic geologic, archaeological and historical records.

Columbine Hondo wilderness study area legislation introduced in Congress


By Norma McCallan

The Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Study Area near Taos has a better chance of being upgraded to a full-fledged Wilderness area. The Senate’s Energy & Natural Resources subcommittee on Public Lands recently held a hearing on the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Act (SB776), at which our senators, Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall, testified. It must now go before the full committee. Introduced by Sen. Jeff Bingaman in the 112th Congress, this bill had stalled, along with many other conservation bills.

Organs: Future tied to our past

photo by Eliza Kretzmann

By Lucas Herndon, Friends of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks

When I meet someone who is relatively new to Las Cruces, invariably their reasons for coming here include the phrase “and when I saw those Organ Mountains…” This is a point of pride for everyone in our community. Granite spires dominate the eastern skyline and give us a few extra moments of sleep before sunrise every morning and offer new colors of purple and blue as the sun sets in the evening.

Chaco reprieve

Photo of Pueblo Bonito by Chris Morris.jpg

By Norma McCallan, Public Lands chair

Gas and oil prospects in the San Juan Basin’s Mancos Shale have put the area outside Chaco Culture National Historical Park in danger of drilling. There’s promising short-term news from the Bureau of Land Management, but a permanent solution needs your support.

Valles Caldera bill passes Senate panel

Valles Caldera - photo by Tom Ribe

By Tom Ribe, Caldera Action

On June 18, 2013, the bill to move the Valles Caldera National Preserve from the temporary VCNP Trust to the National Park Service passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on a bipartisan basis. This is a huge step for protecting the Valles Caldera over the long term. The bill (S285) is likely to be bundled with other public-land bills and presented to the full Senate this summer or fall. The trick is always getting time on the Senate floor and overcoming any filibuster that could require a supermajority to pass.

BLM Resource Management Plan for Sierra, Otero and Doña Ana counties needs work — lots of it

Otero Mesa

By Dan Lorimier, chapter conservation coordinator

Back in 1986 the Bureau of Land Management’s Las Cruces District Office, which oversees roughly 5 million acres of federal lands in Hidalgo, Grant, Luna, Sierra, Doña Ana and Otero counties, finalized the White Sands Resource Management Plan for Sierra and Otero counties and in 1993 published the Mimbres Resource Management Plan covering Doña Ana, Luna, Hidalgo and Grant counties.

SC Executive Director Brune road trip hits Rio Grande del Norte


By Eric Patterson, Taos Water Sentinels

Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune and his family have undertaken a tour of National Monuments of the Southwest.

Rio Grande del Norte designated a new National Monument: Diverse coalition came together to protect truly special New Mexico place

Rio Grande Gorge - copyright Jeff Potter

By Eliza Kretzmann
New Mexico Wild America coordinator

Washington, DC — On March 25, President Obama designated the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. Located in Northern New Mexico near Taos, the monument area is about 242,000 acres and is home to vast mesas and an abundance of wildlife and recreation opportunities.

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Sagebrush Rebellion Redux in New Mexico?

By Walter Szymanski, Rio Grande Chapter member

At the invitation of New Mexico’s Southwestern County Commission Alliance (SWCCA) and the Council of Border Conservation Districts, a fast-talking lawyer and Republican state representative from Utah named Ken Ivory made a presentation to about 60 attendees at a meeting in Deming on Dec. 3, 2012, urging them to follow his state’s lead and push for legislation in New Mexico to “take back” national public lands.

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