Wild and Scenic legislation was right call by Udall, Heinrich - Albuquerque Journal

Wild and Scenic legislation was right call by Udall, Heinrich

U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich deserve a round of applause for introducing legislation to add segments of the Gila and San Francisco rivers to the nation’s Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The language of the bill provides permanent protection for just under 450 miles of these rivers in southwestern New Mexico, ensuring they will remain in their free-flowing conditions for generations to come.

As a native New Mexican, I know how much these rivers mean to the people of this state. Silver City and other nearby communities have long relied on access to the Gila River to maintain a traditional way of life. Look to evidence of Mogollon settlements here dating to 9500 B.C., or the history of the Fort Sill Apache’s relationship to the river, which persists to this day, and it’s clear the Gila River has always been an integral part of the communities that call the region home. A Wild and Scenic designation guarantees that the identified segments will remain as they are today, allowing the adjacent communities to continue their traditional uses of the rivers.

Love for the Gila and San Francisco rivers stretches beyond Grant County, however. Providing opportunities for solace and outdoor recreation, these rivers attract visitors from Albuquerque and across New Mexico every year. Kayakers, anglers, campers, hikers and more cherish these waters, and these visitors provide a steady flow of income for small businesses in the area. Data from the recently formed New Mexico Outdoor Recreation Division reveal that outdoor recreation generates $1.2 billion for the state’s economy annually. Businesses in Silver City ranging from Morning Star Sports, a local outfitter, to Javalina Coffee House have adamantly signaled their support for Wild and Scenic designations because they know outdoor enthusiasts help keep their doors open.

In addition to the two small businesses mentioned above, more than 150 Grant County businesses are supportive of this legislation, as are tribes, faith leaders, civic organizations, local governments, sportsmen and women, and countless others. Sens. Udall and Heinrich did what good elected leaders do: They listened to their constituents and used the powers of their offices to meet their needs.

During my time as mayor of Albuquerque, I placed an emphasis on the production of clean energy and its conservation because I know New Mexico’s natural beauty is our calling card. Leaders must be environmentally conscious and push initiatives that sustain our landscapes for the sake of future generations of New Mexicans. Protecting the Gila and San Francisco rivers as Wild and Scenic is a great way to do just that, preserving critical ecosystems in one of the most beautiful sections of the state.

The introduction of the Wild and Scenic legislation comes at a critical time, as New Mexicans are longing to get outside after all the stress and disruption caused by the current global pandemic. I urge all New Mexicans to listen to the advice of public health experts and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and stay home as much as possible for now. Mask up! However, when it is finally safe to move about the state freely again, I hope all residents of this great state will get a chance to enjoy the wild Gila and San Francisco rivers.

Martin Chavez is a board member with the national nonprofit conservation group, American Rivers.

Home » Opinion » Guest Columns » Wild and Scenic legislation was right call by Udall, Heinrich

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories




Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages

 

Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
1
Ready for Rihanna? A look at five songs that ...
ABQnews Seeker
Journal Staff WriterI am not sure ... Journal Staff WriterI am not sure if you have heard, but there is a football game this ...
2
New Mexico basketball: Five Alford and Nevada takeaways from ...
College
New Mexico fell to Nevada in ... New Mexico fell to Nevada in a 77-76 men's basketball heartbreaker on Tuesday night, thanks to last-second heroics from Kenan Blackshear.  With the win, ...
3
Alford, Nevada break Lobo hearts yet again
ABQnews Seeker
Kenan Blackshear's final-second shot pushed Nevada ... Kenan Blackshear's final-second shot pushed Nevada past the UNM Lobos and continued Steve Alford's dominance over his former team.
4
From piñon to petrichor: 4 aromas that define Albuquerque ...
ABQnews Seeker
A group of Las Cruces fifth ... A group of Las Cruces fifth graders recently pitched a bill that would name the scent of roasting green chile the official state smell. ...
5
Editorial: With 3 strikes already, will new PRC work?
Editorials
From the Editorial Board: Latest sign ... From the Editorial Board: Latest sign of dysfunction is commissioner's recusal from PNM-Avangrid merger, should it resurface.
6
Editorial: State ordered workers back, but forgot offices
Editorials
From the Editorial Board: Why the ... From the Editorial Board: Why the urgency to send state workers back to unready offices?
7
To Lobo basketball fans, Alford remains a provocative figure
College
After a hearty chorus of boos, ... After a hearty chorus of boos, cheers and whatever comes in between, the crowd finally hushed in anticipation of 'The Star-Spangled Banner.' A voice ...
8
Boys prep basketball: Holland leads as Los Lunas wins ...
Boys' Basketball
Travis Julian had done the math. ... Travis Julian had done the math. The short-term math, sure, but far more pressing on his mind was a specific long-term calculation. 'I haven't ...
9
Complaint lodged against energy advocacy group
ABQnews Seeker
The conservative advocacy organization Better Together ... The conservative advocacy organization Better Together New Mexico accused environmental group New Energy Economy of potentially illegal fundraising activity.