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PHOTOS AND VIDEO: Heinrich Joins Community Gathering to Commemorate Public Lands Expansion in Taos County

TAOS, N.M. – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), U.S. Representative Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.), and U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland joined a community gathering with local leaders to commemorate 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).

Taos Celebration

PHOTOS & VIDEO: U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich joins community celebration of public lands expansion in Taos County, June 23, 2024.

"When I helped lead the effort to pass the Great American Outdoors Act four years ago, this type of addition to New Mexico’s public lands was exactly what I was fighting for. I’m grateful to all of the local community leaders in Taos, Trust for Public Land, and the Biden Administration for their partnership as we secured this expansion of our public lands system,” said Heinrich. “We have successfully blocked future commercial development near the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, protected a key wildlife corridor, and preserved the beauty of this region. Once we pass my Cerro de la Olla Wilderness bill, we will also add these new public lands to the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. I can’t wait for more New Mexicans to see these gorgeous and newly public lands in Taos County.”

“The expansion of the Rio Grande National Monument helps fulfill our obligation to protect the land for future generations. Now, they will be able to stand at the Taos Valley Overlook and see the Sangre de Cristo Mountains bathed in red sunlight,” said Leger Fernández. “It took a collaborative effort of local, tribal, federal, and private forces to secure the 3,700 acres of land south of Taos. What a great opportunity to protect the sanctity of this land while expanding economic opportunities for Taos.”

“We are thrilled to celebrate the acquisition of approximately 3,700 acres of land adjacent to the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument for recreational access. Thanks to our enduring partnership with Trust for Public Land and with wide support across the community, these new public lands will expand access to the national monument and the exceptional cultural and natural resources it protects,” said Haaland. “This collaborative approach that empowers local communities and brings people together is at the heart of the President’s America the Beautiful initiative. It is how we’re going to meet our ambitious goal to protect 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030.”


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. 

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 private landowner. 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.  

This Congress, Heinrich and Leger Fernández 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 year in May. 

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