A new video released by the New Mexico Wildlife Federation and Trout Unlimited examines the enduring conservation legacy of retiring U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman. The Senator is getting set to retire after three decades serving in the United States Senate. New Mexico Representative Martin Heinrich, himself a staunch supporter of public lands, will fill Bingaman’s seat beginning in January.
From the video’s press release:
“New Mexico is a better place thanks to Senator Bingaman’s tireless and thoughtful efforts to protect public lands,” said Kent Salazar, a lifelong Albuquerque hunter and angler and former president of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. “His hard work in Congress has improved and protected outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing and hiking for sportsmen like me. Thanks to his efforts, Senator Bingaman has helped ensure that all New Mexicans have the opportunity to enjoy our state’s natural gifts.”
The Rio Grande del Norte offers exceptional outdoor recreation opportunities, and designating it as a national monument would be an economic boon to Northern New Mexicans – this according to Adriana Blake in her recent Op-Ed published in the Taos News. Blake is the administrative manager at Taos Ski Valley, and treasurer of the Taos County Chamber of Commerce.
From the Taos News:
Northern New Mexicans are asking for a Río Grande del Norte National Monument because it makes economic sense. According to a recent study by an economic research firm, a national monument could add $15 million annually to our local economy and create 279 jobs. This growth is on top of the $3.8 billion that outdoor recreation already contributes to New Mexico’s economy annually and the 47,000 New Mexico jobs it supports.
Senators. Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall and Reps. Ben Ray Luján and Martin Heinrich have been working on legislation to protect Río Grande del Norte. However, the bills are stalled in Congress, so our elected officials have asked President Obama to protect the area by using the Antiquities Act.
Esther Garcia and Darren Cordova, the mayors of Questa and Taos respectively, have called on President Obama to exercise his authority under the Antiquities Act and designate the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. In an Op-Ed published Saturday in the Santa Fe New Mexican, the mayors Garcia and Cordova touted the preservation of traditional land uses and the economic boost the region would receive as reasons to support the creation of a national monument.
From the Santa Fe New Mexican:
A Rio Grande del Norte National Monument would safeguard existing user rights on the lands, protecting people’s rights to graze livestock, continue hunting and fishing traditions, and enjoy the mountains with their families. It is equally important to protect religious and cultural sites and protect the traditions of Pueblo members. A Rio Grande del Norte National Monument would spur economic growth in Northern New Mexico. According to a recent study, a national monument would fuel an estimated $15 million in new economic benefits for Northern New Mexico by boosting tourism and supporting ongoing grazing. This growth is on top of the $3.8 billion that outdoor recreation already brings into New Mexico’s economy annually that supports 47,000 jobs across the state.
Garcia and Cordova acknowledged that while legislation has been introduced to protect the Rio Grande del Norte – by Sens. Bingaman and Udall in the Senate, and Reps. Lujan and Heinrich in the House – those efforts are currently stalled in a Congress plagued by gridlock.