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Senate energy bill includes wilderness areas in Rio Grande del Norte monument

A bipartisan energy bill moving through the Senate includes the creation of two new wilderness areas within the Río Grande del Norte National Monument near Taos, and also includes Sen. Martin Heinrich’s proposal to boost public access to federal lands for recreation.

The Senate is debating the energy bill on the floor this week. A proposal by Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., to establish so called “Clean Energy Victory Bonds” similar to war bonds sold in the past, was rejected by the Republican-controlled Senate today. (Scroll down in the linked article above for a description of the victory bonds.)

Heinrich’s HUNT Act, which was included in the Senate bill Tuesday, would require public land agencies to identify high priority “landlocked” public lands currently lacking legal public access. “Landlocked” public lands are technically open to the public but are sometimes impossible to reach legally because there are no public trails or roads leading to them.

“As sportsmen face more and more locked gates and no  trespassing” signs, it’s more important than ever that we keep our public lands open and welcoming to hunters and anglers,” Heinrich said.

The energy bill under debate also includes language to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a law that Udall and Heinrich both support.