Sabinoso Wilderness. Photo Courtesy of New Mexico Wilderness Alliance.
We’ve said it once, and now we will say it again: Wilderness is good for our economy. And many more agree: A recent report from Audubon New Mexico and Headwaters Economics, “The Economic Benefits of Southern New Mexico’s Natural Assets,” finds that protecting and restoring our natural assets will benefit jobs and quality of life.
Endorsed by the Socorro County Chamber of Commerce and the Hispano Chamber of Commerce in Las Cruces, the study found that New Mexico’s wild places contribute $3.8 billion to the state’s economy by employing 47,000 people, and providing recreation activities, including hunting and fishing. Already, tourism brings more than $5.7 billion to New Mexico annually.
The Wilderness Society, collaborating with local partners like the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, is working to protect special places that if protected will provide opportunities for these regions to benefit as part of a diverse economy:
Otero Mesa is the largest remaining wild grassland left in New Mexico. Permanent protection of this special place as a National Monument will not only preserve a rich hunting tradition in the area, but will also help safeguard a vast source of precious water.
The Ute Mountain area will protect the amazing high desert along New Mexico’s river: the wild and scenic Rio Grande. Designating this great resource as a National Conservation Area will protect important wildlife corridors.
Organ Mountains is characterized by rugged peaks and provides recreational trails to families in the Las Cruces area. Protecting the existing wilderness, with additional protection through a National Conservation Area will ensure that future generations are able to experience their natural backyard.
The designation of the Manzano Wilderness Study Area as part of the existing Manzano Wilderness will preserve a critical wildlife corridor through the Sandia and Manzano Mountains.
Our shared treasured lands provide natural benefits that all New Mexicans enjoy. They provide our best hope for addressing loss of species and open space, preserving water quality and adapting to climate change while preserving the wildlife, recreation and lands we enjoy today. Protecting these lands will give us the opportunity to actively reconnect our children and our communities to their incredible natural heritage.
Photo: Sabinoso Wilderness. Photo Courtesy of New Mexico Wilderness Alliance.