The Greater Gila watershed, including the San Francisco River and other main tributaries, comprises the largest remaining network of naturally flowing river segments in the Southwestern United States. New Mexicans treasure the Gila because it provides unique and memorable outdoor experiences for families, spectacular scenery and wildlife habitat, and the foundation of a rural economy including farming, grazing, and recreation. Protecting the river protects abundant cultural resources, the integrity of an important water source, and countless traditional uses.
To ensure future generations can enjoy the Gila like we have - and like so many generations of New Mexicans have - we need to take action to protect it. Designating portions of the Gila River and its watershed as Wild and Scenic Rivers will protect one of the nation's most iconic and treasured rivers, as well as the immense recreational and agricultural economies that rely on it.
That's why I am proud to introduce legislation that would designate segments of the Gila, some of its tributaries, and certain other rivers in the Gila National Forest as Wild and Scenic. This proposal will bolster the local outdoor economy, protect the area's rich beauty and wildlife, and enhance water quality while protecting existing uses. This proposal prohibits involuntary condemnation of private property, and preserves not only private property rights but also water rights, existing irrigation and water delivery operations, grazing permits, public land access, and the ability to restore the health of our rivers and forests.