Endorsement of S. 776 Letter

November 13, 2013


The Honorable Tom Udall                                       The Honorable Martin Heinrich

U.S. Senate                                                               U.S. Senate

Washington, DC 20510                                             Washington, DC 20510


Dear Senators Udall and Heinrich:

We write to express our strong and unwavering endorsement of S. 776, the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Act.  Your legislation will provide permanent “gold standard” protection for these unique, ecologically important, and culturally and historically significan twild lands in northern New Mexico—ensuring that they will be forever available for the use and enjoyment of future generations. We commend you for pursuing wilderness designation for this special area.

As you know, the original proposal to protect the Columbine Hondo as a designated wilderness was developed over several years by a diverse, broad-based coalition, including indigenous Hispanos and Native Americans, ranchers, hunters and anglers, outfitters and guides, equestrian trail riders, conservation organizations ,Land Grant associations, and other concerned citizens—all working together as part of the Columbine Hondo Wilderness Coalition (CHWC).  This locally-based, collaborative process has benefited from the active involvement of businesses, municipalities, and the mountain-biking community—all of whom support the permanent protection as designated wilderness of these special lands within the Carson National Forest.

Located in New Mexico’s Sangrede Cristo Mountains—the southern chain of the Rockies, the Columbine Hondo Wilderness Study Area (WSA) includes 13 miles of high alpine ridges and peaks and serves as the headwaters of the vital Rio Hondoand Red Rivers. Not only do these important sources of clean water serve the local communities and farmlands, but they also represent the second and third largest tributaries to the Rio Grande River.

All New Mexicans understand the importance of water to our survival. It is the life’ sblood of our communities and farmlands.  The extensive droughts we have experienced in recent years under score the importance of protecting the largest renewable water source in the state—these Sangrede Cristo Mountains.  By protecting the Columbine Hondo, we ensure the continued sustainability of the vitally important clean water provided by the Rio Hondo and Red Rivers.

In addition, while the Columbine Hondo is visually striking and serves as an important recreational resource, it also supports a wide range of animal and plant species. The abundance of elk, deer, mountain lion, black bear, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, pine marten, the Rio Grande cutthroat trout, make this area a top destination for hunters and anglers, birders, hikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts.

The Columbine Hondo is an anchor for the viability and sustenance of local communities throughout the region. Thousands of tourists visit Taos County each year, drawn by opportunities for outdoor recreation, and play an important role in the local economy.

Uses of the Columbine Hondo are as varied as its landscape. TheTaos Pueblo and local Hispanic villages rely on these special mountains as a source of wild game for food, and herbs for age-old medicines, and they are considered sacred ground by many.

The mountains and forests of northern New Mexico offer a respite from the hurly-burly of everyday modern life. Many of our nation’s military Veterans come to these deep woods and high mountains seeking refuge and peace of mind that they cannot find anywhere else.

It is important that these many benefits of the Columbine Hondo will be available for future generations, that our children and grandchildren will have this pristine area to enjoy and experience. Thank you for the introduction of S. 776. We look forward to continuing to work with you to make sure the Columbine Hondo is permanently protected.


Oscar Simpson


Oscar Simpson, Chairman

NM Backcountry Hunters & Anglers

3320 12TH ST NW Albuquerque, NM 87107   

(505) 345-0117


Backcountry Hunters & Anglers

Land Tawney, Executive Director

P.0.Box 9257 Missoula, MT 59807




New Mexico Wildlife Federation

Jeremy Vesbach, Executive Director

121 Cardenas Drive

NE Albuquerque, NM 87108-1707

(505) 299-5404


National Wildlife Federation

Lew Carpenter, Regional

Representative (WY,NM,AZ,ID,NV,UT)

2995 Baseline Road, Suite 300

Boulder, CO 80303

(303) 834-0998 



Trout Unlimited

Toner Mitchell, Public Lands Coordinator

142 Rio Seco

Santa Fe, NM 87501

(505) 992-2933 (505) 231-8860


NM Council of Trout Unlimited

Arnold Atkins, Chairman

12 Vista Grande Drive

Santa Fe, NM 87508

(505) 466-4375


Truchas Chapter Trout Unlimited

Mike Rearick, President

P.O. Box 31671

Santa Fe, NM 87594

(505) 699-0080


Enchanted Circle Chapter Trout Unlimited

Nick Streit, President

308- C Paseo del Pueblo Sur

Toas, NM 87571

(575) 751-1312


Bosque Chapter Trout Unlimited

David Propst, President

P.O. Box 95466

Albuquerque, NM 87199

(505) 243-0853


Mesilla Valley FlyFishers, INC.

Charles Mueller, President

P.O. Box 2222

Las Cruces, NM 88004– 2222

(575) 647 4045


Sportsmen Concern, Las Vegas, NM Chapter

Max Trujillo, Interim President

1312 7TH Street

Las Vegas, NM 87707

(505) 454-7000


Mora Valley Merriam's Chapter National Wild Turkey Federation

John Olivas, President

PO Box 65, Holman, NM 87723

(505) 379-5551



NewMexico Chapter Wild Sheep Foundation

Laney Rominger, President

10004 Signal Ave. NE

Albuquerque, NM 87122

(505) 821-5064



New Mexico Sportsmen

Oscar Simpson, Chairman

3320 12TH ST NW

Albuquerque, NM 87107

(505) 345-0117


JACO Outfitters, LLC

John Olivas

HC 34 Box 65

Holman, NM 87723

(505) 379-5551


Sierra Blanca Outfitters

Peter Romero

PO Box 71

Chacon, NM 87713

(505) 429-2887


Back Country Horsemen of NM

Oscar Simpson, Public Lands/Legislative Chair

3320 12THST NW

Albuquerque, NM 87107

(505) 345-0117



Back Country Horsemen of America

Jim McGarvey, Chairman

PO Box 1367

Graham, WA 98338-1367

(706) 669-1015


Dona Ana Country Associated Sportsmen

John Cornell, President

P.O.  Box 1427

Mesilla Park, NM 88947

(575) 895-5090


Southwest Consolidated Sportsmen – A Las Cruces coalition representing:

  • Borderlands Bird Dog Club

  • Ducks Unlimited– Las Cruces Chapter

  • El Paso del Norte German shorthair Pointer Club

  • German Shorthair Club of Las Cruces

  • Gila Rio Grande Chapter of Trout Unlimited

  • New Mexico Quail, Inc.

  • Mesilla Valley Shotgun Sports

  • Organ Mountain Bowmen

  • Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation– Las Cruces Chapter

  • American Fisheries Society – Student Chapter, NMSU

  • The Wildlife Society- Student Chapter, NMSU

  • Mule Deer Foundation- Tri-County Chapter

  • Wild Turkey Sportsmen Association



Dr. Sanford Schemnitz, Chairman

8105 Dona Ana

Las Cruces, NM 88007

(575) 526-5056


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