WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, issued the following statement in response to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s report on national monuments, that includes recommended changes to Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monuments in New Mexico:
“The Department of Interior’s report is based on hearsay and erroneous data. There’s no question that it threatens both of New Mexico’s community-driven monuments that permanently protected iconic landscapes, increased recreational access, and have proven to be major drivers for our local economies.
“For months, thousands of New Mexicans have told the Trump Administration to keep their hands off our public lands, but it appears they aren’t listening. New Mexico’s national monuments are vitally important to our tribes, the economy, and our way of life as Westerners—and Secretary Zinke should know that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
“I am deeply disappointed Secretary Zinke and President Trump have turned a deaf ear to the overwhelming consensus to protect New Mexico’s conservation legacy, but it comes as no surprise given their track record of declining public meetings, making decisions behind closed doors, and never even stepping foot in the Rio Grande del Norte.
“This has been a deeply flawed process and any decision by President Trump to weaken protections for these special places is illegal and will be met with fierce opposition.
“Since Theodore Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act into law more than a century ago, presidents from both political parties have used it to protect the places we all treasure. Places like Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, Rio Grande del Norte, and Bears Ears are exactly the types of places that the Antiquities Act was intended to protect for future generations. Dismantling protections for these landscapes sets a dangerous precedent and will rightly face the same types of legal challenges as others pushed through by a White House hell-bent on appeasing a few extreme interests at the expense of the values of the American people.
“I urge New Mexicans and all Americans to continue making their voices heard to oppose these actions by the Trump Administration. We have a moral responsibility as a nation to our children and all future generations of Americans to protect and conserve our natural and cultural heritage.”