Cibola National Forest

The Cibola National Forest of New Mexico is an expansive series of ‘sky islands’ featuring a great diversity of landscape and wildlife. Unfortunately, it is vulnerable to degradation because the forest has been operating under an outdated management plan.

Cibola National Forest covers 1.6 million acres in the New Mexico spanning northern and central New Mexico, with elevations reaching 11,300 feet. The forest and surrounding grasslands, which are also managed by the U.S. Forest Service, contain four protected wilderness areas, habitat for species like elk, mule deer, black bears and bobcats, and a critical migration corridor for raptors and other wildlife through the Sandia and Manzano mountains.

We are working to make sure the Cibola National Forest is managed sustainably using the best available science and its wildest places are preserved for future generations.

Work we are doing

Cibola National Forest. Credit: Mason Cummings.

Guiding better forest management

The Cibola National Forest’s current management plan, established in 1985, is outdated and needs to be revamped to include modern science on environmental stressors such as the effects of climate change on flora and fauna.

We are working with the U.S. Forest Service and local communities to help create a new plan for the Cibola National Forest. In addition to restoring wildlife habitat, enhancing outdoor recreation opportunities and protecting our last remaining undeveloped places, the plan will serve as a benchmark for other forests.

Protecting roadless areas

Wild, roadless lands on the Cibola National Forest are essential to wildlife conservation, recreation and New Mexico’s cultural heritage.

Through local, citizen-led field inventories in several of the region’s most rugged mountain ranges, we have identified thousands of acres of pristine, wilderness-quality land deserving of federal protection. The San Mateo, Bear and Magdalena mountains are just some of the awe-inspiring backcountry lands we are working to conserve. The landscape here ranges from Chihuahuan desert to sub-alpine spruce and fir, and the wildlife is just as diverse, including bears, mountain lions, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, wild turkeys, Mexican spotted owl, goshawks, eagles and prairie dogs.

We are working to make sure these areas keep their wild character, safeguarded from motorized use and development.

Advocating for wildlands designation

Only 2 percent of New Mexico is protected as federally-designated wilderness, the smallest amount in any western state.

We are working toward more permanent protections for New Mexico’s wildlands. Our effort to secure protections for roadless lands in the Cibola National Forest’s land use plan will help us achieve our vision for more permanent protection of New Mexico’s wildest places.

Our partners

The Wilderness Society works with a number of local, regional and national conservation groups to help protect the Cibola National Forest and ensure that its wildest spots remain intact and cultural resources are protected: