New Mexico bills move forward in House and Senate

Organ Mountains in New Mexico. Photo by oflazer, Flickr.

Two New Mexico Wilderness bills that would protect some of the state's wildest areas in the rugged Organ Mountains and the Cibola National Forest came closer to being enacted this week.

The Cibola National Forest Boundary Expansion legislation, (H.R. 5388), will protect a critical wildlife corridor through the Sandia and Manzano Mountains. It was approved by the House Natural Resources Committee on July 22. The bill, authored by Rep. Martin Heinrich, adds 896 acres to the Manzano Mountain Wilderness. It now awaits action on the House floor.

Earlier in the week, a second bill, the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Wilderness Act, (S. 1689) passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee with strong bipartisan support. Once passed in the full Senate, the legislation, which The Wilderness Society strongly supports, will protect more than 300,000 acres of New Mexico’s public land in and around the Organ Mountains as Wilderness and National Conservation Areas.

Located just outside of Las Cruces in southern New Mexico, the Organ Mountains have long been the center of enjoyment for many in southern New Mexico, with ample opportunities for recreation.

The mountains serve as a backdrop for one of the most breathtaking scenic views in the state of New Mexico. This rugged range gets its name from the granite needle-like peaks at the height of the range, similar to the pipes on a pipe organ.

A variety of stakeholders — thousands of citizens, U.S. Senators Bingaman and Udall, local elected governments and Chambers of Commerce, sportsmen organizations, community groups and conservation organizations, such as the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance and New Mexico Wildlife Federation — have come together to protect the treasured Organ Mountains.

The Organ Mountains legislation now awaits final Senate action.

It is critical that the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Wilderness Act passes Congress this year in order to ensure that New Mexico’s treasured mountains get the protection they deserve.

Please visit New Mexico Wilderness Alliance’s website and thank Senators Bingaman and Udall for working to protect the Organ Mountains and ask that they continue working until final passage of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Wilderness Act in this Congress.

photo: Organ Mountains in New Mexico. Photo by oflazer, Flickr.