WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources considered several conservation bills U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) has championed.
The committee considered the San Juan County Settlements Implementation Act, a bill Senator Heinrich introduced with Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) to finally resolve several decades-long public land and resources issues in northwestern New Mexico. The bill would bring to a close decades of litigation over mineral leases, allow the Navajo Nation to receive its final settlement lands pursuant to a settlement dating back to 1974, and permanently protect the unique geologic, paleontological, and cultural resources in the Ah-shi-sle-pah Wilderness Study Area.
Senator Heinrich also highlighted the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Conservation Act, a bill considered by the committee today that he introduced with Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.). The bill would complete the community proposal for the region included in the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, including designating wilderness in the backcountry of the monument, improving operational flexibility for Customs and Border Patrol, and protecting the important missions at Fort Bliss from encroachment by incompatible development.
During his opening remarks, Senator Heinrich said, "The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument has been a tremendous success for Doña Ana County in just the two years since its designation, but only Congress can complete the original vision for this area."
The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Conservation Act has broad and diverse support. A recent poll commissioned by the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce showed 78 percent of citizens in Doña Ana County support the protection of wilderness within the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.
The committee also considered the Advancing Conservation and Education Act (ACE Act), a bill Senator Heinrich introduced with Senator Jeff Flake (R-A.Z.) to better facilitate land exchanges between Western state land offices and federal public land agencies. The ACE Act specifically focuses on state trust land inholdings within the boundaries of federal conservation areas like parks, monuments, and wilderness areas.