Here's a run-down a few key projects that NM BHA is involved with:
- Improving the make-up of the Game Commission – As many of you are likely well aware the current composition is weighted heavily against sportsmen. Oscar Simpson worked a table at the Bob Gerding sport show and was able to get around 700 sign-on letters in support of legislation that has been introduced as HB 439. Click here for more information on this effort.
- Conservation of the Rio Grande del Norte – NM BHA supports legislation that was recently reintroduced to protect critical big game habitat and fisheries in the Rio Grande del Norte. NM BHA has been a part of numerous meetings and efforts on this campaign and will be meeting with Heinrich, Udall and Lujan this week to discuss the protection of the Rio Grande del Norte as well as Columbine Hondo (see article below). Click here for a Rio Grande del Norte article on NM BHA’s website.
- Columbine Hondo – NM BHA fully supports efforts to protect this roadless elk and mule deer habitat as wilderness. Support for the proposal is substantial and NM BHA is working with a coalition of sportsmen, local residents and business owners to encourage decision makers to protect the wild hunting and fishing opportunities that this area offers.
- OHV Identification & Enforcement – BHA continues to work throughout the West to push for a uniform visible identification on OHV’s and improved enforcement. Last year, NM BHA garnered letters of support addressed to New Mexico’s decision makers from over 1,000 individuals, many of whom are OHV-users, as well as 18 sportsmen and conservation organizations. Here is a web article on this national effort.
- Valles Caldera National Preserve – BHA supports legislation that would transfer management of this land from a defunct pseudo federal corporation into more traditional federal land management. An article on this can be found below.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 13, 2013
SATURDAY: Udall, Heinrich & Luján to Visit Taos County
Will Meet with Local Leaders to Discuss Columbine-Hondo & Rio Grande del Norte Conservation Efforts
Albuquerque, N.M. - U.S. Sens. Tom Udall, Martin Heinrich and Congressman Ben Ray Luján will be in Taos on Saturday to meet with community stakeholders and discuss their efforts to protect the Río Grande del Norte. Sens. Udall and Heinrich will also highlight upcoming legislation to protect the Columbine-Hondo.
The meeting will take place at Rivers and Birds in Arroyo Seco and is being hosted by Roberta Salazar, Founder and Executive Director of Rivers and Birds, and John Olivas of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance.
The gathering will serve as an opportunity for local leaders to share why the protection of these areas is important for the local communities and for the delegation to provide an update on their legislative efforts.
Last Thursday, the federal lawmakers reintroduced a bill to establish the Río Grande del Norte Conservation Area to protect more than 240,000 acres of BLM-managed lands in Taos and Rio Arriba Counties. They have also joined community leaders in asking President Obama to consider designating the area a national monument in order to protect the land, wildlife habitat and to preserve existing uses such as hunting, fishing and grazing.
In the last Congress, Udall sponsored legislation to grant the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Study Area permanent wilderness status – the highest federal protection available. The Columbine-Hondo borders the Wheeler Peak Wilderness within the Carson National Forest, and was designated a "Wilderness Study Area" in 1980. It serves as a major water source for New Mexico rivers and acequias, provides exceptional recreational opportunities for local residents and boosts ecotourism for the community. The bill, which Udall plans to reintroduce in the 113th Congress, would provide the area permanent protection.
Efforts to protect the Columbine-Hondo and Río Grande del Norte areas have enjoyed strong local support as members of the Congressional delegation, including retired Sen. Jeff Bingaman, worked closely with community stakeholders to craft the original legislation.
Saturday, February 16, 2013
WHAT: Udall, Heinrich and Luján Discuss Conservation Efforts With Taos Community Leaders
TIME: 10:45 a.m. - noon MST
WHERE: Rivers and Birds
480 State Highway 150
Arroyo Seco, NM
The following community stakeholders are expected to give brief statements at the meeting:
Sam Gomez, Taos Pueblo War Chief
David Arguello, President, Arroyo Hondo Arriba Land Grant
Erminio Martinez, Livestock Permittee
Larry Sanchez, Taos County Commissioner
Darren Cordova, Taos Mayor
Esther Garcia, Mayor of Questa
Neal King, Mayor, Village of Taos Ski Valley
Linda Calhoun, Mayor Town of Red River
Peggy Nelson, Amigos Bravos
Stuart Wild, Outfitter
Eric Patterson, Water Sentinels, Sierra Club
Bobby Ortega, Questa Livestock Rancher, Acequia Commissioner
Chuck Howe, Village of Angel Fire Veterans Center
Doug Pickett, Taos Cycling Coalition
Cisco Guevara, Los Rios River Runners
Representatives from the The Wilderness Society, Sierra Club, Trout Unlimited, National Wildlife Federation, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, and NM Wildlife Federation, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance (NM Wild) are also scheduled to attend.
New bill would shift control of Valles
By Michael Coleman / Journal Washington Bureau on Wed, Feb 13, 2013
WASHINGTON — New Mexico’s U.S. senators are once again trying to persuade Congress to transfer management of the Valles Caldera National Preserve to the National Park Service.
Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, both New Mexico Democrats, on Tuesday reintroduced a bill that would make the change, citing inconsistent funding, a need for infrastructure improvements and concerns that the preserve would not achieve financial self-sustainability by 2015, as directed by the Valles Caldera Preservation Act of 2000. Udall and then-Sen. Jeff Bingaman first introduced the legislation in 2010, but it didn’t clear Congress after winning approval from the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
The bill aims to put the pristine 89,000-acre preserve under closer government management. Purchased by the federal government for $100 million in 2000, the Valles Caldera has been managed as a presidential-appointed trust with a working ranch for the past decade. Public access to the land is limited, and some would like to see the National Park Service make it more readily available for hiking, fishing, hunting and other recreational uses.
“Incorporating this landscape into the National Park Service will preserve its resources and allow for public enjoyment by future generations,” Udall said in a statement. “Additionally, I want to applaud the years of work that the board of trustees and preserve employees have invested in caring for this unmatched natural resource.”
Heinrich said he has enjoyed hunting and fishing in the Caldera and wants to make it more accessible to the public.
“The Valles Caldera National Preserve Management Act would help protect the abundant natural resources of the preserve while increasing recreational access for hiking, camping, hunting, and fishing for all New Mexicans,” Heinrich said in a statement “Making the Valles Caldera more accessible would improve the quality of life for all who visit, for all who benefit from the tourism dollars it brings, and for all who pass on New Mexico’s outdoor traditions to their children in such a spectacular setting. ”
Heinrich also noted that the bill would protect traditional uses of the Caldera’s resources, as well as nearby pueblos’ sacred sites.
The existing management trust was devised in 2000 as a highly unusual management program for such a vast tract of public land. The trust was charged with establishing financial self-sufficiency for the preserve, a goal that many thought unrealistic at the time and which has never been met.
A National Park Service study has determined the Valles Caldera meets the criteria for inclusion in the national park system as a national preserve.