New Mexico Public Lands, Habitat Would be Conserved in New Wilderness Bill

News for Immediate Release
March 2, 2023
Contact: Katie McKalip, 406-240-9262, [email protected]

Bicameral introduction of Cerro de la Olla Wilderness Establishment Act commended by hunters and anglers, bill would conserve habitat for elk, mule deer, mountain lions and black bear

WASHINGTON – A bill that would conserve as wilderness 13,000 acres of public lands in New Mexico, including migratory corridors for elk and habitat for a range of big-game species, was introduced in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives today by Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández (D-NM).

The Cerro de la Olla Wilderness Establishment Act would designate 13,000 new acres of wilderness within the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in northern New Mexico, further solidifying protections for the landscape while maintaining current routes and public access.

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers’ New Mexico chapter supported the legislation during its initial introduction in the 117th Congress and commended today’s bicameral introduction in the 118th.

“We applaud the reintroduction of the Cerro de la Olla Wilderness Establishment Act by Senator Martin Heinrich and Representative Teresa Leger Fernández,” said Mike Farrington, BHA NM vice chair. “Supported by sportsmen and women, this legislation would permanently conserve more than 13,000 acres of public lands in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. A unique caldera, this landscape is an important migratory corridor for elk and provides habitat for other game species such as mule deer, mountain lions, and black bear.”

Established in 2013, the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument provides habitat ranging from high altitude sagebrush plains to some of the nation’s first designated segments of the Wild and Scenic River System. In 2019, the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act designated both the Cerro del Yuta Wilderness and the Rio San Antonio Wilderness within the monument.

“Wilderness areas offer untrammeled landscapes, healthy habitat and solitude that is becoming all too rare in our world,” said John Gale, BHA vice president of policy and government relations. “BHA members thirst for the hunting and fishing opportunities that only wilderness provides. Senator Heinrich and Representative Leger Fernández not only appreciate these values; they also recognize the broad support from New Mexicans and others for conserving them. We thank them for their leadership, and we urge their colleagues in Congress to support the Cerro de la Olla Wilderness Establishment Act.”

Last Congress the Cerro de la Olla Wilderness Establishment Act was reported out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee by voice vote, the only wilderness bill in the 117th Congress to do so.

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About Katie McKalip