Local mayors call on President Obama to protect “el norte”

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.

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