WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today in a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) raised concerns with the Department of Interior’s (DOI) report on national monuments and highlighted the lack of involvement from local land managers in the review process.
During the hearing, Senator Heinrich questioned John Ruhs, Acting Deputy Director of Operations at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), on Secretary Zinke’s recommendations to the president regarding New Mexico’s national monuments. He highlighted several factual errors with the report including claims that roads have been closed in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument and claims that ranchers have stopped ranching there because of those non-existing road closures. In addition, Senator Heinrich noted that the DOI report stated that Organ Mountains–Desert Peaks National Monument is on the U.S.-Mexico border, when in fact—on the recommendation of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol – the boundary of the monument was established five miles north of the international border.
After citing these basic factual errors in the report regarding New Mexico’s national monuments, Senator Heinrich asked Ruhs whether local BLM land managers were consulted in writing the recommendations in the report. Ruhs confirmed that local land managers were not involved in developing the report.
Earlier this week, Senator Heinrich slammed the Department of Interior’s report on national monuments for its politically-driven claims that would have been easily disproven if the department had actually taken the time to listen to and work with local communities. Senator Heinrich sent letters to Secretary Zinke during the public comment period regarding the history of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and the Rio Grande del Norte National Monuments, highlighting the broad public support and extensive consultation with and input from local communities.