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Heinrich, Local Leaders Highlight Need to Protect Pecos Watershed, Call for Administrative Withdrawal

PECOS, N.M. – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) joined elected officials, local leaders, and the conservation community to call for protecting the Pecos Watershed from future mining. Heinrich recently introduced the Pecos Watershed Protection Act with U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), legislation that would protect portions of the Pecos Watershed in northern New Mexico from mining. 

The Pecos Watershed Protection Act has the support of dozens of local leaders and advocacy groups. The Village of Pecos, Santa Fe County, and San Miguel County have passed resolutions in support of the legislation.  

PHOTOSU.S. Senator Martin Heinrich joins Pecos community in discussing need for Pecos Watershed Protection Act.

“The Pecos Watershed Protection Act is the culmination of years of work from community leaders dedicated to protecting the Upper Pecos Watershed. It’s an honor to join them by leading this important effort in Congress,” said Heinrich. “As we know, this region has a history of poorly managed mining and development projects that have put these New Mexicans, and their way of life and cultural identity, at risk. The last thing this area needs are new mines. That’s why I am calling on the U.S. Forest Service to take action right now provide protections for the Pecos Watershed through an administrative withdrawal.”

Heinrich continued, “Our communities should not have to live in fear of another looming toxic mining spill. I am committed to continuing the fight to pass the Pecos Watershed Protection Act to make sure this watershed can remain healthy and intact for future generations.”

This event builds on years of tireless advocacy to safeguard the Upper Pecos Watershed from all mineral development.  

In September 2020, Heinrich initially introduced the Pecos Watershed Protection Act to protect the Upper Pecos Watershed. He reintroduced the legislation with Senator Ben Ray Luján in February 2021, while Leger Fernández introduced the Pecos Watershed Protection Act in the House in 2021.  

In March 2021, Heinrich, Luján, and Leger Fernández led a letter to the New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission to safeguard the promise of clean water and increase protections for the watershed.  

In June, Heinrich, Luján, and Leger Fernández led a letter calling on the U.S. Forest Service to outline the process by which the agency will assess the potential risk of mineral development in the Upper Pecos Watershed.  

In October, Heinrich, Luján, and Leger Fernández reintroduced the Pecos Watershed Protection Act. This legislation has received overwhelming local community support, gaining momentum during a key hearing in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last week.