Protecting the places we love
A hundred years from now, people are going to look back at this time in Congress and talk a lot about the challenges, the changes, and strife. And then they're going to see some bright spots. Our public lands and outdoor recreation have proven to be a uniting force. What we've been able to accomplish for habitat, for wildlife, and for public lands in this year alone--particularly in the face of real hostility from the Trump administration--has been truly remarkable.
Today, we achieved yet another major conservation victory when the U.S. House of Representatives passed the final version of the America's Conservation Enhancement Act. I led negotiations of this bipartisan bill that will support critical wildlife conservation programs and address the threats of emerging wildlife diseases and invasive species. I am especially pleased that the final bill includes increased funding for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA). As a member of the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, I help approve NAWCA grants each year, and I have been impressed by the program's demonstrated success in restoring habitat--including in the Middle Rio Grande in New Mexico.
I will never stop working to protect the places that New Mexicans cherish for future generations. Last week, in a key legislative hearing in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, we built more momentum for two of my bills to protect iconic New Mexico landscapes.
VIDEO: U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich delivers opening remarks at a legislative hearing for two bills he introduced to designate portions of the Gila River as Wild and Scenic and establish Cerro de la Olla Wilderness within the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, September 16, 2020.
The M.H. Dutch Salmon Greater Gila Wild and Scenic River Act would permanently protect the Gila River's free-flowing segments, attract more visitors to southwestern New Mexico, and grow the outdoor recreation industry. The second bill would establish the Cerro de la Olla Wilderness within the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in northern New Mexico. It would preserve traditional uses and provide sanctuary to a wide range of wildlife species, while maintaining current access routes to the peak.
In addition to those two bills, I also recently introduced the Pecos Watershed Protection Act to prevent harmful mining operations in northern New Mexico's Pecos Valley. This region is home to a remarkably diverse community of farmers, ranchers, hunters, anglers and outdoor recreationists who are united by the beauty and health of the Pecos River and the expansive watersheds that feed into it. There is a dark history of poorly managed mining and development projects putting these New Mexicans, their way of life, and their cultural identity at risk. We must prevent future mining accidents that would cause further damage.
I am also continuing to hold the Trump administration accountable for its relentless attacks on our public lands and natural resources. Over the weekend, a federal judge in Montana ruled that William Perry Pendley, the president's "acting" director of the Bureau of Land Management, needs to be removed from office because he has been serving illegitimately. I have been leading the fight for months to remove Mr. Pendley--a man who made it his life's work to sell off, give away, and exploit our forests, mountains, grasslands and open spaces--from his leadership role managing so many of those very same public lands that we all love.
I hope you will keep me informed about your thoughts on our public lands, conservation, and other important issues. I want to assure you that I will keep standing up against any threats to our natural resources and keep fighting for policies rooted in the conservation of our wildlife, our water, and our landscapes.
United States Senator