WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) presided as acting Ranking Member of a Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests and Mining hearing and worked to advance two conservation bills he introduced with U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Conservation Act and the Rio Puerco Watershed Management Program Reauthorization Act.
In his opening statement, Senator Heinrich discussed the importance of the bills to protecting New Mexico’s public lands and water quality.
Senator Heinrich highlighted the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Conservation Act, which would further complete the vision of the diverse coalitions and stakeholders who fought for the permanent protection of wilderness opportunities within the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks (OMDP) National Monument.
“This legislation will further complete the vision of the diverse coalitions and stakeholders who fought so hard to protect this stunning part of our state,” Heinrich said. “By designating the most rugged and unique areas of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks as wilderness, we will continue to grow our thriving outdoor recreation economy and protect New Mexico's natural heritage for our children and for generations to come.”
During the hearing, Senator Heinrich emphasized the value of public lands to growing the outdoor recreation economy. He noted the outdoor recreation economy in New Mexico generates 99,000 direct jobs and nearly $10 billion in consumer spending. He also questioned BLM Deputy Director of Policy and Programs Brian Steed about the improvements the legislation makes to border security.
According to a new survey conducted by Colorado College that explores bipartisan opinions in the Rocky Mountain West region on conservation issues, 97 percent of New Mexicans think the outdoor recreation economy — meaning people who come to hunt, fish, camp, see wildlife, as well as those who manufacture and sell equipment for those activities — is important to the economic future of the state.
A list of witnesses, testimony, and the archived webcast of the hearing is available here.