Udall, Heinrich & Luján To Visit Taos County

Will Meet with Local Leaders to Discuss Columbine-Hondo & Rio Grande del Norte Conservation Efforts

Albuquerque, N.M. - U.S. Sens. Tom Udall, Martin Heinrich and Congressman Ben Ray Luján will be in Taos on Saturday to meet with community stakeholders and discuss their efforts to protect the Río Grande del Norte. Sens. Udall and Heinrich will also highlight upcoming legislation to protect the Columbine-Hondo.

The meeting will take place at Rivers and Birds in Arroyo Seco and is being hosted by Roberta Salazar, Founder and Executive Director of Rivers and Birds, and John Olivas of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance.

The gathering will serve as an opportunity for local leaders to share why the protection of these areas is important for the local communities and for the delegation to provide an update on their legislative efforts. 

Last Thursday, the federal lawmakers reintroduced a bill to establish the Río Grande del Norte Conservation Area to protect more than 240,000 acres of BLM-managed lands in Taos and Rio Arriba Counties. They have also joined community leaders in asking President Obama to consider designating the area a national monument in order to protect the land, wildlife habitat and to preserve existing uses such as hunting, fishing and grazing.

In the last Congress, Udall sponsored legislation to grant the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Study Area permanent wilderness status – the highest federal protection available. The Columbine-Hondo borders the Wheeler Peak Wilderness within the Carson National Forest, and was designated a "Wilderness Study Area" in 1980. It serves as a major water source for New Mexico rivers and acequias, provides exceptional recreational opportunities for local residents and boosts ecotourism for the community. The bill, which Udall plans to reintroduce in the 113th Congress, would provide the area permanent protection.

Efforts to protect the Columbine-Hondo and Río Grande del Norte areas have enjoyed strong local support as members of the Congressional delegation, including retired Sen. Jeff Bingaman, worked closely with community stakeholders to craft the original legislation.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

WHAT: Udall, Heinrich and Luján Discuss Conservation Efforts With Taos Community Leaders

TIME: 10:45 a.m. - noon MST
WHERE:  Rivers and Birds
             480 State Highway 150
             Arroyo Seco, NM
The following community stakeholders are expected to give brief statements at the meeting:
Sam Gomez, Taos Pueblo War Chief
David Arguello, President, Arroyo Hondo Arriba Land Grant
Erminio Martinez, Livestock Permittee
Larry Sanchez, Taos County Commissioner
Darren Cordova, Taos Mayor
Esther Garcia, Mayor of Questa
Neal King, Mayor, Village of Taos Ski Valley
Linda Calhoun, Mayor Town of Red River
Peggy Nelson, Amigos Bravos
Stuart Wild, Outfitter
Eric Patterson, Water Sentinels, Sierra Club
Bobby Ortega, Questa Livestock Rancher, Acequia Commissioner
Chuck Howe, Village of Angel Fire Veterans Center
Doug Pickett, Taos Cycling Coalition
Cisco Guevara, Los Rios River Runners

Representatives from the The Wilderness Society, Sierra Club, Trout Unlimited, National Wildlife Federation, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, and NM Wildlife Federation, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance (NM Wild) are also scheduled to attend. 

Media RSVP to news@tomudall.senate.gov to attend.