Following Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s visit to Taos last month to discuss protecting the Rio Grande del Norte, a Utah congressman announced his opposition to creating a national monument around the area, The Taos News reported.
Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., has proposed legislation to protect a 236,000-acre area including the Rio Grande Gorge, Ute Mountain and San Antonio Mountain in Taos and Rio Arriba counties, and both Bingaman and Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., have called on President Barack Obama to create a national monument to protect the area, The News said.
Two days after Salazar’s visit to Taos, Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, who chairs the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, issued a statement opposing the designation, the paper reported.
“It’s nice that Secretary Salazar held a meeting on Saturday, but many would argue that the gathering failed to provide sufficient opportunity for real public input and participation from the community, stakeholders and local leaders,” said the statement from Bishop’s office. “This is not the appropriate course that should be taken when considering new policies and land designations that affect so many livelihoods.”
Bishop’s statement referred to the federal Antiquities Act, which allows the president to create national monuments, as “controversial” and said it was a way to “lock up federal land and resources behind Congress’ back.”
According to a statement from the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, however, Bishop’s “assertion that designating this area as a national monument without sufficient public input reeks of a desperate eleventh-hour attempt to stop presidential action that would help the local economy and be highly popular in New Mexico.”
10:29am 12/14/12 — Secretary Salazar To Hold Public Meeting on Protecting Rio Grande del Norte
By ABQnews Staff
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar will host a public listening session to explore the best path forward to preserve and protect the Río Grande del Norte in northern New Mexico, according to a press release from the secretary’s office.
On Saturday, Salazar will host the public listening session at 11 a.m. at the Kachina Lodge, 413 Paseo del, Pueblo Norte, in Taos. He will be joined by U.S. Representative Ben Ray Luján and Bureau of Land Management State Director for New Mexico Jesse Juen.
“I look forward to hearing from New Mexicans about what the Río Grande del Norte means to their community and what their vision is for its future,” said Salazar in a statement. “Public lands provide huge economic benefits to communities through tourism and outdoor recreation, and the Río Grande del Norte is no exception. We need to ensure that generations to come have the opportunity to experience this iconic western landscape.”
Located about 30 miles northwest of Taos, the Río Grande del Norte contains stretches of the Río Grande Gorge and Ute Mountain, which rises from the Taos valley floor.