WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Retired U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman and U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) will join President Obama at a National Monument Proclamations Signing Ceremony in the Oval Office on Monday, March 25, to establish the Río Grande del Norte in northern New Mexico as a U.S. National Monument.
The signing ceremony is closed to the press. However, members of the press interested in participating in an availability with Senator Heinrich following the ceremony can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (202) 228-1578.
"For more than a century, the Antiquities Act has given American presidents the authority to protect our nation's most treasured landscapes, and the Río Grande del Norte is indeed a treasure," said Sen. Heinrich, who serves on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. "My deepest thanks go out to Senator Bingaman and the local community for championing this effort, and to President Obama for recognizing just how special the Río Grande del Norte is."
In 2007, now-retired Senator Jeff Bingaman's office began working with residents of Taos and Rio Arriba Counties to identify how to best protect the land. Since then, Bingaman, Sens. Tom Udall, Martin Heinrich, and Rep. Ben Ray Luján have worked to advance legislation through Congress to protect the area and asked the White House to consider a monument designation. In Feb. 2013, U.S. Sens. Tom Udall, Martin Heinrich and Congressman Ben Ray Luján reintroduced the legislation to protect the Río Grande del Norte and met with community stakeholders in Taos to discuss their efforts to ensure permanent protection of this area.
The Bureau of Land Management, under the direction of the Department of the Interior, currently manages the 240,000 acres of land in northern New Mexico. The Río Grande del Norte monument proclamation will be modeled after the delegation's legislative efforts to protect the area with input from Taos and Rio Arriba County residents.
The proclamation has strong local support. "This American Land" aired a segment highlighting Río Grande del Norte and the people working to protect this special place.