On behalf of the New Mexico chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, the voice for our wild public lands, waters and wildlife, we thank you for introducing the M.H. Dutch Salmon Greater Gila Wild and Scenic River Act (S. 3670). We encourage you to work with Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Ranking Member Joe Manchin (D-WV) on advancing the legislation to the Senate floor.
The Gila National Forest encompasses the Aldo Leopold Wilderness, Blue Range Wilderness and the nation’s first designated wilderness area, the storied Gila Wilderness. The area is home to a diverse watershed and one of the last free-flowing river systems in the Southwest. It sustains critical habitat for the Gila trout, one of New Mexico’s two revered native trout species. Native Gila trout are threatened and rely on mountain stream strongholds including Whitewater Creek, Spruce Creek and the Upper West Fork, among others, for their recovery and survival. In addition, the Middle and West Fork of the Gila River and the San Francisco River provide critical habitat for other native fish species; S. 3670 would permanently conserve these waterways by establishing them as wild and scenic.
S. 3670 enhances access to hunting, angling and other outdoor activities by safeguarding our pristine waters. The legislation will improve our state’s annual $9.9 billion outdoor recreation economy, which provides communities with 99,000 direct jobs across the state.
Considering the M.H. Dutch Salmon Greater Gila Wild and Scenic River Act in committee is important to our New Mexico members we encourage you to work with Chair Murkowski and Ranking Member Manchin in advancing the legislation.
Thank you again to Senators Udall and Heinrich for championing this crucial bill.