Members of New Mexico's congressional delegations are trying again to designate the 45,000-acre Columbine-Hondo area in Taos County as wilderness.
Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, both Democrats, on Monday reintroduced legislation to give the area permanent wilderness status. A companion bill is expected to be introduced in the House Tuesday by Rep. Ben Ray Luján, a Democrat who represents northern New Mexico.
Located in the Carson National Forest, the Columbine-Hondo has been managed as a "Wilderness Study Area" since 1980.
The Columbine-Hondo includes lush forests and alpine meadows that are home elk, mule deer, mountain lions, black bears, and bighorn sheep.
Udall and Heinrich say giving the area permanent wilderness status will increase profitable tourism opportunities and provide for continued traditional land uses, such as hunting and grazing.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.