Community Quotes

Hispano leaders and organizations, small business owners and the Taos and Mora Valley Chambers of Commerce, sportsmen and ranchers, Native American Pueblos and elected officials, and conservation organizations have come together to thank President Obama for protecting Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.

Elected Officials 

  • “The Rio Grande del Norte National Monument was protected today because of the commitment and passion of our people for this landscape we call home. For years, our community, local sportsmen, ranchers, small business owners, and people across northern New Mexico have worked collaboratively with our members of Congress to try and protect it. Now, the Rio Grande del Norte will be preserved for generations to come.”
    — Taos Mayor Darren Córdova
  • “Rio Grande del Norte is one of the most enchanting parts of our Land of Enchantment. Our communities welcome this monument designation because it ensures that our irreplaceable natural heritage will be permanently protected for the well-being of our culture, local economy, and future generations.”
    — Joe Maestas, former mayor of Espanola
  •  “As a Hispanic leader in New Mexico, a state that leads the nation with over 45% Hispanic population, I am writing to convey my strong support the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. The environmentally, culturally, and historically rich landscapes of the San Luis valley and Rio Grande Gorge encompass our newest national monument.”
    — Nicklos Jaramillo, former Taos County Commissioner


  • “As an elected official and a veteran, I support designating Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. Protecting New Mexico’s natural beauty will ensure that there remain recreational opportunities for residents and non-residents alike. Additionally, the area provides a place for veterans to put the war memories behind them.”
    — Larry Sanchez, Taos County Commissioner and veteran
  • “America’s veterans join in the applause for President Obama’s protection of the new Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, which provides outstanding recreational opportunities, wildlife habitat, and scenery that inspires all of us. These lands also offer veterans the peace and solace needed to reintegrate into our communities after grueling deployments.”
    — Mark Starr, Iraq War Veteran and Program Director for the Vet Voice Foundation


  • “As a fishing guide, I’ve seen how little it takes to alter a place forever and this is one of those places that deserves to stay just as it is. If we do not protect Rio Grande del Norte, we lose our connection to the place, and in New Mexico, that connection is deeply rooted in our culture. As a native New Mexican, a sportsman, and as a father, I can say with certainty that if we lose that connection, we risk losing our culture. That connection – that culture – is everything to us here.”
    — Toner Mitchell, The Reel Life Fly Shop in Santa Fe, and President of Truchas chapter of Trout Unlimited
  • “The Rio Grande del Norte is my favorite place in the world to fish, and the higher slopes of the Rio Grande watershed have fed my family with deer, antelope, and elk. It’s as wild and free as it gets. Designating Rio Grande del Norte as a national monument will help keep it as a legacy for those who follow us.”
    — Taylor Streit, Owner/Operator of Streit Fly Fishing, and a member of the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame
  • “There has been overwhelming local support for protection of Rio Grande del Norte for years, contrary to the statements of a few national politicians. We applaud the President and Secretary Salazar for acting to ensure that this area, which is home to some of the nation’s best elk, deer, antelope and trout, will always be here for future generations to enjoy.”
    — Max Trujillo, Sportsmen Coordinator at the New Mexico Wildlife Federation


  • “The Taos County Chamber of Commerce fully supports President Obama’s protection of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.  Without a doubt, guaranteeing public conservation of this area will create significant benefits for our local economy, including the creation of nearly 300 new jobs.”
    — Brad Malone, Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Taos County Chamber of Commerce
  • “The Rio Grande del Norte is a natural playground for many visitors to Taos County.  The new national monument is a key economic component for northern New Mexico.  This is an opportunity to enhance northern New Mexico’s economy by offering Americans a unique landscape preserved for wildlife and outdoor activities – hunting, fishing, river rafting and especially wildlife viewing.”
    — Chris Pieper, Owner of Mud and Flood in Taos New Mexico
  • “We celebrate the new Rio Grande del Norte National Monument because it means these beautiful public lands that lure tourists, new residents and entrepreneurs to Taos will always be protected. These lands are already a vital economic driver for our members’ businesses and our traditional way of life, and we now look forward to seeing this impact grow.”
    — Jamie Tedesco, Executive Director of the Taos Green Chamber of Commerce
  • “Taos is visited by many who come to enjoy the land and the wildlife.  Our air is clean and the skies are clear.  Tourism is the lifeblood of this community and protecting Rio Grande del Norte National Monument will ensure that we will not lose this great treasure.”
    — Kim Vandeman, Store Manager of Taos Mountain Outfitters

Native American

  • “I applaud President Obama protecting Rio Grande del Norte National Monument because many of the wildlife species that live in that corridor come in and out of this area.  Left unprotected, there may be very few animals available that the Native American people of Taos Pueblo depend on for food, clothing and shelter.”
    Benito Sandoval, Taos Pueblo War Chief

Hispanic Voices

  • “Our Hispano heritage runs deep in northern New Mexico. We are connected to our land and water like we are connected to our families and traditions. We depend on the land - whether it is fishing, hunting or enjoying the peace and quiet of nature. Protecting Rio Grande del Norte as a national monument will protect our way of life for future generations.”
    — Ralph Arellanes, LULAC New Mexico
  • “Rio Grande del Norte is not only a treasure in New Mexico and Colorado, but also for the whole country, and we are glad to see it being preserved and safe-guarded. Thank you, President Obama, for protecting this New Mexico gem for everyone to enjoy.”
    — Thane Padilla, member of OLÉ
  • “We can’t give up on a precious commodity like our land and water. Access to safe water, clean air and preserved land are a human right. Protecting Rio Grande del Norte National Monument means that we are taking a step in the right direction toward conservation being a key issue in national policy.”
    — Veronica Saavedra, member of OLÉ

Ranchers and Grazing Permitees

  • “As a grazing permittee on Rio Grande del Norte, I support President Obama’s national monument designation. My father and grandfather grazed on this land for many years, and today I run cattle and sheep on my allotment.   Protecting Rio Grande del Norte National Monument protects our way.”
    — Andrew Abeyta, Rio Grande del Norte grazing permittee
  • “Congressional direction for grazing in Wilderness and National Monuments is very well established.  As a grazing permittee, I believe that public land protection ensures that my livelihood will remain in place and that my children and grandchildren will be able to continue the traditions passed on to me by my father and grandfather. “
    — Erminio Martinez, Grazing Permittee
  • “I support the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument because it will provide grazing and economic security for the area.  My cattle and many head of elk utilize the area along with my grazing allotment.  During winter months, a herd of 3,000 to 4,000 elk frequents the area.  I am in complete support of protecting the area for future generations and maintaining and improving habitat for my cattle and elk.”
    — Alex Mestas, Rio Grande del Norte grazing permittee
  • “I strongly support Rio Grande del Norte National Monument as it will protect my family’s way of life” My father’s family homesteaded this land many years ago, long before wire fences.  In 2007, I obtained 36 sections of BLM land to graze my animals.  Since that time, I have worked with BLM staff to improve vegetation for grazing along with the huge herd of elk that winter in the area. Protecting this area ensures that future generations of people and animals can call this land home.”
    — Johnny Mestas, Rio Grande del Norte grazing permittee

Land Grant Voices

  • “Those of us with deep roots here appreciate that the protection of these landscapes preserves grazing within the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument and specifically protects our right to hunt, fish and collect piñon nuts and firewood.  It directs the Bureau of Land Management to protect the cultural, natural and scenic resources in the area, and protects rights granted under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.  This measure will help ensure that these ancestral lands will remain for future generations to come.”
    — Esther Garcia, President of San Antonio Del Rio Colorado Land Grant and Mayor of the Village of Questa
  • “The Community Land Grant of San Antonio del Rio Colorado supports Rio Grande del Norte National Monument as it protects traditional uses in northern New Mexico. Protecting our way of life and time-tested traditions is of the upmost importance to our community.”
    — Malaquias Rael, Board Member, San Antonio de Rio Colorado Land Grant


  • “The legacy of President Obama’s action will carry on beyond our lifetimes and live as a gift to future generations of Americans.”
    -Mariel Nanasi, Executive Director of New Energy Economy
  • “We are thrilled that President Obama will use his authority under the 1906 Antiquities Act to designate Rio Grande del Norte as a protected area, keeping it free of development.  Many generations have enjoyed and lived off this landscape, and today President Obama has ensured the local community that this special place will stay as it is for our children, grandchildren, and those who follow.”
    — John Olivas, Traditional Community Organizer for the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance
  • “Today, the President has acknowledged the importance of the Rio Grande del Norte area to our nation’s biodiversity. Permanently protecting this sacred area will ensure that critical migratory paths for iconic species like falcons and eagles will remain intact.”
    — Karyn Stockdale, Executive Director of Audubon New Mexico
  • “Protecting our lands and waters can’t wait, and The Wilderness Society applauds President Obama for protecting the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument and other significant landmarks across the United States. Protecting the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument demonstrates President Obama’s commitment to conservation, and we join the local community in thanking the President for this legacy for future generations to enjoy.”
    — Jamie Williams, President of The Wilderness Society
  • “President Obama has taken an important step in protecting America’s outdoor heritage and honoring our nation’s history. These designations came in response to locally-driven efforts and we are grateful for President Obama’s leadership in advancing conservation at a time when it’s desperately needed.”
    — Brian O’Donnell, Executive Director of the Conservation Lands Foundation