Udall-Heinrich Bill To Establish Wilderness Areas In The Río Grande del Norte National Monument Clears Energy and Natural Resources Committee

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, a bill sponsored by U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) to designate two wilderness areas in the Río Grande del Norte National Monument, cleared the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Watch a video clip from the markup here

"Communities around the Rio Grande Del Norte are very enthusiastic about the President's designation of the National Monument." said Sen. Udall. "Finalizing these study areas as wilderness will add to the positive economic impact of the monument designation, and help ensure that the most wild places are recognized and protected for future generations."

"This bill would create two wilderness areas in northern New Mexico, the Cerro del Yuta Wilderness and the Rio San Antonio Wilderness," said Sen. Heinrich, a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. "The community of northern New Mexico, including a broad coalition of elected officials, local business owners, sportsmen, land grant heirs, ranchers, and conservationists, have worked incredibly hard to protect these areas. Doing so would complete the last piece of protecting the striking landscape of the Río Grande del Norte National Monument. I'm proud to join my colleague, Senator Tom Udall, in taking this step to preserve this area that is so important to New Mexicans and our growing Western economy."

"The Rio Grande Del Norte Coalition in Taos County partnered with nontraditional conservation groups including grazing permitees, land grant heirs, Acequia members, small businesses and many community members," said John Olivas, Chairman of the Mora County Commission, and Mora Land Grant Heir. "We are hopeful that our coalition has set the stage for public land conservation campaigns across the country. Thank you Taos County for recognizing this fabulous opportunity to protect lands, water and culture in your community."

Earlier this year, President Barack Obama designated of the Río Grande del Norte as a national monument. The Río Grande del Norte monument proclamation is modeled after the lawmakers' legislative efforts to protect the 240,000-acre swath of land. The Bureau of Land Management, under the Department of the Interior, will continue to manage the monument.