Taos News: OP-ED: Río Grande del Norte: A Brighter Future For All New Mexicans

By:  U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich
Taos News

In March, former Senator Jeff Bingaman and I stood proudly in the Oval Office as President Obama signed a proclamation to designate the Río Grande del Norte a national monument. It was a historic moment for New Mexico and our country. 

From the tops of Cerro de la Olla and Ute Mountain, to the depths of the Rio Grande Gorge, the Río Grande del Norte is one of the most spectacular places on earth. 

Our state’s newest national monument will continue to improve the quality of life for all who hunt, fish and float there, for all who benefit from the tourism dollars it brings, and for all who pass on New Mexico’s many outdoor traditions--both old and new--to their children and grandchildren in such a magnificent setting.

As a former outfitter guide, I know firsthand how important the Río Grande del Norte National Monument is for Taos County and what it means for New Mexico’s economic vitality.

 The designation of our new monument will draw thousands of tourists from across the country and around the world, bringing millions of dollars in revenue to Northern New Mexico. According to a recent economic study, the establishment of the Río Grande del Norte National Monument could lead to an increase of approximately $15 million in regional economic activity and create more than 250 new jobs. 

This historic monument designation would not have been possible without the tireless efforts and collaboration of our local communities, businesses, sportsmen, conservationists, tribes, land grant heirs, acequia parcientes, ranchers, elected officials, and many others who have dedicated years of hard work to protect this area. 

I want to give particular thanks to Jeff Bingaman for championing this effort, to my friends and colleagues Tom Udall and Ben Ray Luján, to former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, and to President Obama for recognizing just how special the Río Grande del Norte is. 

Let us continue to revel in this moment and heed the call of building a brighter future together for all New Mexicans.