WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Representative Ben Ray Luján welcomed a partnership between the Wyss Foundation and the Wilderness Land Trust to open up the Sabinoso Wilderness for public access. Created in 2009 through legislation championed by Udall, Heinirch, Luján and former Senator Jeff Bingaman, the Sabinoso Wilderness is currently surrounded by private land and therefore inaccessible without trespassing on private property. That will soon change thanks to a $3,150,000 contribution from the Wyss Foundation to allow the Wilderness Land Trust to purchase the Rimrock Rose Ranch, a 4,176 acre neighboring property. The Wilderness Land Trust plans to donate this land to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) so it can be added to the existing wilderness and allow for public access to the entire area.
Located on just over 16,000 acres in San Miguel County, the rugged Sabinoso Wilderness includes scenic canyons and mesas, which are home to a variety of wildlife, including mule deer, elk, mountain lions and wild turkey. Its dramatic landscape includes the 1,000-foot tall Canyon Largo and several impressive rock formations.
“I was proud to help create the Sabinoso Wilderness in partnership with former Senator Bingaman, local leaders, land owners, ranchers and sportsmen. And now, thanks to a new partnership, we’re closer to opening up public access so New Mexico families and visitors can enjoy Sabinoso’s canyons, wildlife and new recreational opportunities,” Udall said. “I’d like to thank the Wyss Foundation and the Wilderness Land Trust for their generous donation and dedication to our public lands. Together, we’ll ensure that New Mexicans can enjoy the wonders of the Sabinoso Wilderness for years to come.”
"The Sabinoso Wilderness is one of New Mexico’s most spectacular landscapes, with 16,000 acres of narrow mesas and rugged canyons. Yet without a legal road or trail to get there, the public has effectively been locked out of this crown jewel of our public lands. The Wilderness Land Trust and the Wyss Foundation have been dedicated partners in unlocking the Sabinoso Wilderness and the agreement announced today is a major achievement,” Heinrich said. “Our public lands belong to all of the American people. Traditions like hunting, hiking, camping, and fishing are among the pillars of Western culture and a thriving outdoor recreation economy. Through this collaborative effort to improve access to the Sabinoso Wilderness we will ensure that outdoor enthusiasts from near and far can finally experience all that this special area has to offer.”
"New Mexico is known as the Land of Enchantment because of our people, beautiful landscapes, clear skies, and fresh air,” Luján said. "I was proud to champion the creation of the Sabinoso Wilderness so that we can preserve this unique land for future generations. Thanks to the efforts of the Wyss Foundation and the Wilderness Land Trust, New Mexicans and other visitors can look forward to accessing the 16,000 acre wilderness to hunt, fish, camp, hike and enjoy other recreational activities.”
The BLM must review the newly obtained land and determine if it meets donation criteria before adding it to the Sabinoso Wilderness.