The following statement was provided by Oscar Simpson on behalf of NM BHA and Backcountry Horsemen of America to the NM Congressional Delegation at a meeting on 2/16/13, at Rivers & Birds facility in Arroyo Seco, NM.
The Columbine Hondo Wilderness Study Area is a unique high alpine area that contains iconic vistas, critical aquatic and terrestrial habitat for native trout, big game and other alpine wildlife. Columbine contains critical watersheds that feed several streams which are used by local farmers and ranchers via acequias outside the area and eventually drain into the Rio Grande River – which in turn are used by municipalities for drinking water and downstream farmers.
The two organizations I represent support wilderness and cherish getting out and pursuing our recreational passions in a wild and natural environment - where nature prevails and solitude and tranquility refresh our souls. We want to ensure that our traditions of hunting, fishing, equestrian trail riding and the use of pack animals is preserved for present and future generations.
In 1980 Columbine was designated as a WSA to protect its wilderness values. Thirty plus years have passed – we feel it is time to permanently protect Columbine either through Congressional legislation or Monument designation if Congress does not act.
We also support protecting the adjacent Rio Grande del Norte NCA via legislation or Monument designation.