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Heinrich Makes Progress On Locally-Driven Outdoor Conservation, Recreation Priorities As Legislation Advances Out Of Committee

Senator Heinrich’s bipartisan SOAR Act gains significant momentum, now attached to larger outdoor recreation bill headed to Senate Floor

WASHINGTON – Today, during a business meeting in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) increased momentum on key locally-driven outdoor conservation and recreation priorities. 

Senator Heinrich advanced by unanimous consent legislation to establish Cerro de la Olla Wilderness within the Río Grande del Norte National Monument in northern New Mexico. Senator Heinrich’s legislation would preserve traditional uses and provide sanctuary to a wide range of wildlife species, while maintaining current access routes. Find a map of the proposed wilderness here. The legislation now heads to the Senate Floor for full consideration. 

Senator Heinrich’s bipartisan Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation (SOAR) Act is also gaining significant momentum. The bill language is included in ENR Chair Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) and U.S. Senator John Barrasso’s (R-Wyo.) bipartisan Outdoor Recreation Act that was also passed out of committee today. Senator Heinrich’s legislation would improve the permitting process for outfitters, educational organizations, and community groups to access public lands.

As a former outdoor guide who has direct experience with the permitting process, Senator Heinrich noted that his is “glad to see this committee advancing this important legislation today that supports families, schools, and community groups get outside and enjoy our great public lands.”

Senator Heinrich’s Pecos Watershed Protection Act was also considered during the hearing. This legislation would withdraw all federally-managed minerals in the watershed and would prevent leasing, patent, or sale of all publicly-owned minerals, including oil and gas as well as gold, silver, copper, and other hard rock minerals. Read the full text of the Pecos Watershed Protection Act by clicking here

During the hearing, Senator Heinrich expressed that “This legislation was requested by my constituents in San Miguel County to protect […] irreplaceable water supply and resources. […] There are many places that are appropriate for mining, and places that just aren’t—and this is one that just isn’t.”

The Pecos Watershed Protection Act is supported by the San Miguel County Commission, the Pecos Business Association, the New Mexico Acequia Association, the Pueblo of Jemez, local farmers, landowners, and residents. The legislation now awaits Senate Floor action. 

Senator Heinrich also supported committee-passage of U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow’s (D-Mich.) legislation to incorporate all future and existing National Heritage Areas (NHA), including the Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area (NRGNHA), into a National Heritage Area System. Senator Stabenow’s legislation compliments Senator Heinrich’s legislation to reauthorize the NRGNHA that passed out of committee in November 2021. This bill would continue the preservation of local cultural and historic resources through 2036.