NM wilderness area grows with large donation - Albuquerque Journal

NM wilderness area grows with large donation

1931450
Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland looks out at the Sabinoso Wilderness in Las Vegas, N.M., after accepting a land donation from the Trust for Public Land to the Bureau of Land Management on Saturday. The donation increases the size of the Sabinoso Wilderness in northeastern New Mexico by nearly 50. (Felicia A. Salazar/U.S. Department of the Interior)

U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland visited her home state Saturday to celebrate what marks the largest wilderness land donation in the agency’s history and another addition to the nation’s landholdings as the Biden administration aims to conserve nearly one-third of America’s lands and waters by 2030.

The 15-square-mile donation from the Trust for Public Land increases the size of the Sabinoso Wilderness Area in northeastern New Mexico by nearly 50%. The property includes rugged canyons, mesas covered by piñon and juniper woodlands, pockets of ponderosa pine trees and savannah-like grasslands.

Haaland, who joined other officials at a remote site in San Miguel County, acknowledged that the area makes up part of the ancestral homelands of the Jicarilla Apaches and northern pueblos of New Mexico. She said that for generations, families have relied on the land for sustenance and that it means a lot to many people who visit the area in search of peace and quiet.

“We’re here today because we recognize the importance of preserving this special place,” she said in prepared remarks, adding: “We know that nature is essential to the health, well-being and prosperity of every family and every community.”

U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, third from left, cuts a ribbon at the Sabinoso Wilderness to accept a land donation from the Trust for Public Land to the Bureau of Land Management. Others, from left, are Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández, D-N.M., Sen. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., and representatives from the Trust for Public Land. (Felicia A. Salazar/U.S. Department of the Interior)

The Biden administration issued a report earlier this year titled “America the Beautiful.” It called for a decade-long commitment on projects nationwide to make the conservation and restoration of lands and waters an urgent priority. The lofty plan aims to purify drinking water, increase green space, improve access to recreation, restore fisheries, reduce wildfire risks and recognize the contributions of farmers, ranchers, rural communities, Indigenous tribes and others.

Haaland said areas like Sabinoso Wilderness are an important piece of the puzzle as the administration looks to meet its goal.

“This kind of collaboration that you see today is how we will reach that target over the next decade,” she said.

The Sabinoso gained federal wilderness protection in 2009, but was inaccessible for visitors since the federal parcel was landlocked by private holdings.

Through the work of conservation groups and members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation, the Bureau of Land Management accepted a donation in 2017 of nearly 6 square miles from The Wilderness Land Trust. That provided public access for the first time.

Now, the donation from the Trust for Public Land provides a second access point as well as permanent protections for a tributary that feeds into the existing wilderness.

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, a New Mexico Democrat, first visited the Sabinoso Wilderness Area about 15 years ago and has been working ever since to get it opened up to the public. He has described it as “one of New Mexico’s most spectacular landscapes.”

The area supports an array of wildlife, from elk and deer to mountain lions, turkey and bears.

U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland speaks at the Sabinoso Wilderness to accept a land donation from the Trust for Public Land to the Bureau of Land Management. (Felicia A. Salazar/U.S. Department of the Interior)

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

Nativo Sponsored Content

taboola desktop

MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS

1
Sandia workers honored by Society of Women Engineers
ABQnews Seeker
Group has worked to support women ... Group has worked to support women in their careers for over 70 years
2
FBI seeks suspected bank robber who wears just one ...
ABQnews Seeker
Man has robbed, or tried to ... Man has robbed, or tried to rob, at least three ABQ-area banks this month
3
Man charged in 2021 ABQ homicide
ABQnews Seeker
Other charges include armed robbery, tampering ... Other charges include armed robbery, tampering with evidence and conspiracy
4
Governor sends $4,200 excess campaign donation to state fund
ABQnews Seeker
Lujan Grisham is up for reelection ... Lujan Grisham is up for reelection this fall; GOP will pick nominee in June 7 primary
5
Rain, snow, cooler temps likely for New Mexico this ...
ABQnews Seeker
The weekend is expected to be ... The weekend is expected to be mostly sunny, with high temps of 50-52 degrees
6
Man sentenced to 6 years for burying the bodies ...
ABQnews Seeker
Three other men alleged to have ... Three other men alleged to have killed the teens are scheduled to stand trial in
7
NM reports nearly 15,000 new cases and 33 deaths ...
ABQnews Seeker
Positivity rate remains high, with just ... Positivity rate remains high, with just over 30% of all COVID tests coming back positive
8
Move to pay NM's elected officials to involve ethics ...
ABQnews Seeker
Proposal cleared Senate committee 7-1, heads ... Proposal cleared Senate committee 7-1, heads to Judiciary Committee
9
DA hits back at report on crime, bail reform
ABQnews Seeker
Claims warnings of a 'revolving door' ... Claims warnings of a 'revolving door' for violent criminals ignored