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Udall, Heinrich propose new wilderness areas

Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall – both New Mexico Democrats – today introduced legislation to establish two wilderness areas within the Río Grande del Norte National Monument designated by President Barack Obama northwest of Taos.

The two proposed wilderness areas – the Cerro del Yuta Wilderness and Rio San Antonio Wilderness –would comprise 21,420 acres within the 242,500-acre national monument. You can view a map of the proposed wilderness areas here.

According to the Bureau of Land Management a federally designated wilderness area must be in a generally natural condition, have outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation, must be at least 5,000 acres or large enough to preserve and use as wilderness and may also contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, scenic, or historical value.

“For many years now, a broad coalition of northern New Mexicans has worked to conserve these two very special areas within the Río Grande del Norte National Monument,” Heinrich said. “I have no doubt that future generations will be grateful for their efforts. Designating these two wilderness areas completes a national example of community-driven, landscape-scale conservation that will preserve the culture, natural resources and economy of this stunning corner of New Mexico.”

“Recognizing the Cerro de Yuta and Rio San Antonio areas as wilderness is a final step toward protecting the Río Grande del Norte’s deep heritage and treasured landscapes, all while creating jobs and boosting the tourism economy in northern New Mexico,” Udall said. “Northern New Mexicans and countless visitors have cherished the Río Grande del Norte for generations, and the strong grassroots collaboration among a broad coalition of local stakeholders demonstrates the community’s commitment to permanently protecting this prized area.”

The Río Grande del Norte is home to elk, deer, bighorn sheep, golden eagles, sandhill cranes, and other wildlife.

A map of the two proposed wilderness areas is available here.