Albuquerque, NM – Today President Obama permanently protected a pristine region known as Rio Grande del Norte near Taos, New Mexico by designating the area a national monument. This region, which is known for diverse wildlife and incredible mountain scenery, is now permanently protected from development.
“Environment New Mexico applauds President Obama for listening to New Mexicans and protecting one of the most treasured wild areas of our state,” said Sanders Moore, director of Environment New Mexico. “This is great news for the hikers who explore Ute Mountain, a free-standing former volcano, and for the critical populations of bald eagles and other wildlife who call this area their home.”
Rio Grande Del Norte is home to thousands of plants and wildlife. The region is home to bald eagles and falcons; migratory birds, such as herons and merlins, elk and pronghorn antelope, the only surviving species of its family in the world.
A public listening session was recently held in Taos by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to discuss the future for the region and an overwhelming majority of attendees supported permanent protection. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, former Sen. Bingaman and Congressmen Lujan, and the Mayors of Questa and Taos all support the project and expressed their support with President Obama.
“Rio Grande Del Norte is just another reason why New Mexico is known as the ‘Land of Enchantment’,” said Moore. “Thanks to President Obama, we’ll be able to enjoy this region for generations to come.”
Rio Grande del Norte was designated as a national monument under the Antiquities Act. Signed into law by Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, the Act has been used by nearly every president since to permanently protect federally owned land from development. Currently only about one third of our public lands are permanently protected as wilderness, parks, refuges or other protected areas.
Other areas in Environment New Mexico are currently seeking monument protections for are Otero Mesa, the largest and wildest grassland left on public lands in America, and Organ Mountains, a popular hiking destination outside Las Cruces.
“We look forward to continuing our work with President Obama on a comprehensive approach to protect all the places that are important to New Mexicans,” said Moore.