Skip to content

Heinrich Secures Expansion of Public Lands in Taos County

TAOS, N.M. – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is welcoming the federal acquisition of 3,700 acres of land adjacent to the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in Taos County, N.M. Championed by Heinrich, the acquisition was announced by Trust for Public Land (TPL) and completed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

The newly acquired land is southwest of Ranchos de Taos on the east side of N.M. Highway 68 across from the Taos Valley Overlook Trails. It will allow new public land access and increase opportunities for outdoor recreation and traditional land uses.  It will also expand an important wildlife corridor for migratory species like elk by connecting the Carson National Forest, the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, Picuris Pueblo, and Taos Pueblo. Importantly, the acquisition will protect land that is at high risk for commercial development and preserve a treasured view shed in Taos County.

More information on the acquisition can be found in this Fact Sheet and Detailed Map from Trust for Public Land.

“The Rio Grande del Norte National Monument has protected the natural wonders and cultural heritage that have always made Northern New Mexico unique. This historic expansion of our public lands system will block future commercial development near the Monument, protecting the hiking, whitewater rafting, hunting, fishing, and traditional land uses that have made the Rio Grande del Norte such a treasured place,” said Heinrich. “It’s why I’ve worked so hard to secure federal resources and work with the local Taos community to steer this acquisition through every step of the process. With the support and partnership of TPL, we are creating new outdoor recreation opportunities, protecting an important wildlife corridor, and preserving the beauty of our public lands.” 

"This project is the culmination of 20 years of work with the Taos community to protect nationally-significant lands at the heart of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument,” said Jim Petterson, Trust for Public Land’s Mountain West Region Vice President. “These newly protected lands offer opportunities for expanded recreational access and secure a vital wildlife corridor. We are grateful for Senator Heinrich’s vigorous efforts on behalf of this project, the national monument and to expanding public land access in New Mexico.”

“We appreciate Senator Heinrich’s steadfast dedication to protecting land and water in New Mexico. The addition of the Klauer Property will be a great asset to public lands and those who use them in New Mexico, including members of Taos Pueblo. There is an incredible array of public and pueblo lands in the area that encompass a remarkable wealth of ecosystems and watersheds that are the lifeblood of our community. We have the confidence in BLM that ‘best management practices’ will be implemented in a manner that protects cultural and natural resources for future generations to come,” said Taos Pueblo Tribal Secretary Dwayne LeftHand.

“Commerical development on the Klauer property would have been an eyesore and does not align with Taos’s reputation as a sanctuary for artists, outdoor recreation and traditional land users,” said Nick Streit, Executive Director of the Friends of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. “The Friends truly appreciate the efforts of Trust for Public Land, Senator Martin Heinrich, the Klauer family and the Bureau of Land Management for working together to protect Taos’ pristine landscapes as well as our arts and outdoor economy.”


Over the last few years, Heinrich worked in close partnership with local leaders, Taos Pueblo, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Bureau of Land Management Director Tracy Stone-Manning, and Trust for Public Land (TPL) to complete this acquisition from a willing private landholder. Heinrich first announced the potential for this new addition to New Mexico’s public lands at a September 2022 Public Lands Day Celebration in Taos with Secretary Haaland, BLM Director Stone-Manning, and TPL President and Chief Executive Officer Diane Regas.

Heinrich helped secure the acquisition by delivering over $16.6 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The first $4 million dedicated to the project came through Congressionally Directed Spending that Heinrich secured in the Fiscal Year 2022 budget. Another $9.9 million was included from LWCF in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget, and the remaining funding came from the BLM’s LWCF Recreation Access Fund. Heinrich secured full, permanent funding for the LWCF in the Great American Outdoors Act, bipartisan legislation he championed becoming law in 2020.

During his time in the Senate, Heinrich has helped secure the resources and support for numerous new additions to New Mexico’s protected public lands that have unlocked new public access to the Sabinoso Wilderness, opened up new access to the Santa Fe National Forest from the Village of Jemez Springs, and added the historic L Bar Ranch property to western New Mexico’s Marquez Wildlife Area—the single greatest addition to protected public land in New Mexico in a generation.

Heinrich played an instrumental role in championing President Barack Obama’s designation of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in 2013. As part of the 2019 John Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, Heinrich secured the passage of the Cerros del Norte Conservation Act, which designated two Wilderness Areas within the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument: the Cerro del Yuta (Ute Mountain) and Rio San Antonio. 

In this Congress, Heinrich and U.S. Representative Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.) introduced legislation to establish Cerro de la Olla Wilderness within the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. That bill also includes language to add the newly acquired public lands announced today to the Monument. The bill advanced out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee with bipartisan support last May.