On the heels of the newest federal monument designation in northern New Mexico, members of the state's congressional delegation are pushing for more land to be protected.
U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan have introduced legislation that would set aside 70 square miles in Taos County as the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness.
With its forests and alpine meadows, the area has been managed as a wilderness study area since 1980.
The legislation also calls for expanding Wheeler Peak Wilderness by 650 acres and creating a loop trail accessible by mountain bikers along the Lost Lake Trail from Taos Ski Valley to the East Fork Trail to Red River.
In March, President Barack Obama designed nearly 240,000 acres north of Taos as the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.