Las Cruces, NM – The bill is sponsored by Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall and would protect approximately 236,000 acres of public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management in Taos and R o Arriba counties by designating a combination of "conservation" and "wilderness" areas.
The R o Grande del Norte National Conservation Area Establishment Act would cover the upper reaches of the Rio Grande Gorge previously designated as a Wild and Scenic River, protecting elk wintering grounds and migratory corridors along the plateau between Ute Mountain and San Antonio Mountain and habitat for other game species and birds of prey, including bald eagles.
Senator Bingaman, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, says setting aside this landscape will protect its traditional uses while attracting new visitors to New Mexico and boosting the region's economy.
Bignaman-" It's what we call a conservation area and that's a higher level of protection than just public domain land which is what it is today, but it isn't at the level that you would have with a national monument. We hope we can get the bill considered by the full senate and passed onto the president this congress, so that is certainly the effort we are making."
The Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed the bill with bipartisan support. Representatives Ben Ray Luj n and Martin Heinrich have introduced a similar bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.