Opinion: President Obama should seek conservation legacy in New Mexico

Credit: Conservation Lands Foundation

In an op-ed printed in the High Country News, Ben Long of Resource Media argues the importance of balancing leasing with protection of our public lands, pointing out that while oil and gas production has soared under President Obama, public land conservation has lagged far behind.

Although President Obama currently sits behind President Reagan, President George H.W. Bush and President George W. Bush when it comes to protecting public lands - not exactly something to be proud of - Mr. Long points out that New Mexico presents the perfect opportunity to begin balancing the equation.

From the High Country News:

A great place for Obama to begin correcting this imbalance is in New Mexico, with the Rio Grande del Norte.  I was in New Mexico in the fall, working with some folks who love to hunt elk and mule deer and fish for trout in this region.

The land is impressive on its own – vast sagebrush plateaus, framed by ancient volcanic cinder cones and cleft by the narrow whitewater canyon of the Rio Grande. I was equally impressed by the broad swath of support from New Mexicans coming together to conserve this special place – not lock it up under glass, but to make sure it remains special and available for people to use and enjoy long into the future.

New Mexicans have drawn up a balanced, visionary proposal that would conserve about 250,000 acres of the Rio Grande del Norte. If Congress is too lost in Beltway politics to listen to the people, Obama should perk up his famous ears and act toward the future.

Check out the Center for American Progress for more on the need to balance leasing with conservation.

Taos Pueblo passes resolution supporting Rio Grande del Norte proposals

The Taos Pueblo Government Office has passed a resolution supporting the protection of Rio Grande del Norte either by designation as a National Conservation Area or by presidential proclamation as a National Monument.

The Taos Pueblo is located on 99,000 acres of land just north of the city of Taos, and is governed by a tribal governor and war chief appointed yearly by the Pueblo’s Tribal Council, a group of some 50 male tribal elders.

The Taos Pueblo resolution includes the following statements:

Whereas, the proposed Rio Grande del Norte National Conservation Area/National Monument in Taos and Rio Arriba Counties is an area of extraordinary environmental, economic, cultural and recreational value;

Whereas, the people of Taos Pueblo have for centuries been important Earth stewards honoring the interconnection of all life in the Rio Gorge and surrounding plateau and mesas;

Whereas, the Conservation Area or National Monument will ensure that these public lands will be conserved and enhanced for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations of all species;

THEREFORE, BE IT HEREBY RESOLVED Taos Pueblo in the strongest terms supports federal protection of the lands contained within Rio Grande del Norte Proposal through a legislated National Conservation Area or a presidentially proclaimed National Monument in order to protect its scenic, cultural, environmental, economic, and recreational values.

Read the entire Taos Pueblo resolution here.