Santa Fe New Mexican: Wilderness groups to honor Heinrich for conservation efforts

By:  Staci Matlock

The Wilderness Society, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Sierra Club and the Campion Advocacy Fund will present Sen. Martin Heinrich with the John P. Saylor Wilderness Leadership Award for his conservation efforts during his years serving in the House and Senate.

The award is named for former Rep. John P. Saylor, a Republican from Pennsylvania who was the lead sponsor and champion in the House for the Wilderness Act, which was signed into law 50 years ago this month. Rep. Saylor served in Congress from 1949 until his death in 1973.

Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society, said, “Senator Heinrich has worked as a champion for many vital wilderness bills in the House and the Senate. He brings a balanced and broad approach to conserving New Mexico’s treasured public lands.

The senator is a co-sponsor and champion of the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Act, which would protect approximately 45,000 acres of forest land in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains — an area that contains the headwaters of the Rio Hondo and Red River, significant clean water sources for the central Rio Grande Corridor of New Mexico. The Columbine Hondo, which is popular among hunters, anglers, hikers and backpackers, has been under official consideration as a potential wilderness area for more than 30 years.

Heinrich also is a co-sponsor of the Cerros del Norte Conservation Act, which would establish two wilderness areas totaling about 21,000 acres within the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in New Mexico, and a co-sponsor of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Conservation Act, which would establish eight new wilderness areas totaling more than 240,000 acres within the new Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.