WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) traveled to the Sabinoso Wilderness to join U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland as she accepted the largest wilderness land donation in U.S. history that will unlock greater access and nearly double the size of the wilderness area. The land donation from the Trust for Public Land to the American people is an area known as Cañon Ciruela that is adjacent to the Sabinoso Wilderness in San Miguel County in New Mexico.
“I am grateful for Secretary Haaland’s support of the largest wilderness land donation in U.S. history, which will open up a second public access point to the Sabinoso and provide even greater opportunities for outdoor recreation,” said Heinrich. “Increasing access to the Sabinoso is an important economic opportunity for Las Vegas and surrounding communities in San Miguel County. And it couldn’t come at a better time as we rebuild our tourism and outdoor recreation industries in New Mexico. This is a major gain for our state and would not be possible without the generosity of the Trust for Public Land and the dedication of the local community and sportsmen who have championed this effort for years.”
In 2017, Senator Heinrich supported a similar land donation from the Wilderness Land Trust that provided the public with access to the wilderness for the very first time. Senator Heinrich championed the HUNT Act, a law that improves access to public lands wherever hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation are permitted.
"With this addition, the Sabinoso Wilderness Area will grow by nearly 50 percent, giving nearby communities and visitors alike more access to the outdoors and nature,” said Diane Regas, president and CEO of The Trust for Public Land. “We are grateful for support from Secretary Haaland, Senator Heinrich, the Wyss Foundation, Walmart’s Acres for America program through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the Bureau of Land Management for their efforts to protect this important and unique landscape for generations to come."
"Adding this incredible property to the magnificent Sabinoso Wilderness will permanently protect the critical wildlife habitat it provides while also opening it to public access for hunting, camping, hiking, wildlife photography and other outdoor recreation. After having been land-locked for many years, the New Mexico Wildlife Federation was instrumental in securing public access to the Sabinoso Wilderness in 2017. That was a huge victory for New Mexico sportsmen and women. Growing this designated wilderness by nearly 9,000 more acres of pristine land is another step to ensuring future generations of New Mexicans will always have wild places to enjoy," said Jesse Deubel, executive director of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation.
“Sabinoso was until recently the state’s only landlocked wilderness, so this addition and the enhanced public access it brings to this wild place is great news. The area holds tremendous ecological, scenic, recreational, and cultural values, and is one of the best spots in the state for those seeking true solitude. The Trust for Public Land’s donation of Cañon Ciruela gives New Mexico’s outdoor lovers more room to explore this stunning landscape, and Senator Heinrich’s leadership continues to bring more national attention to the wild places that are worthy of protection,” said Mark Allison, executive director at New Mexico Wild.
“As part of the 7th generation of my family born in and around San Miguel County, I have a deep connection to these beautiful lands. They allow us to continue to practice longstanding traditions like horseback riding, hiking, and hunting. The addition of Cañon Ciruela’s nearly 9,900 acres makes it easier for our communities to access and enjoy the Sabinoso Wilderness, and also protects a watershed and important wildlife habitat,” said Rock Ulibarri, advisory board member of Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors (HECHO).