New Mexico coalition gets closer to winning Columbine Hondo Wilderness area

Organ Mountains, New Mexico

I have some exciting news from New Mexico to share with all of you!  Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) has announced plans to introduce legislation that would designate 45,000 acres of what is now the Columbine Hondo Wilderness Study Area as permanently protected Wilderness.

Opposite sides come together on behalf of Columbine Hondo

With the high peaks of the Columbine Hondo as a backdrop, Sen. Bingaman made the announcement April 10 outside Taos, N.M. He was met by the cheers of the Columbine Hondo Wilderness Coalition and staff of The Wilderness Society.

The crowd of supporters truly reflected the ethnic and cultural diversity of New Mexico: leaders from Taos Pueblo, grazing permittees, acequia parciantes, Hispanic land grant heirs, sportsmen, business owners, conservationists, mountain bikers and local elected officials.

This diverse coalition is unprecedented in the conservation movement in New Mexico.  The issue that brought people together - many whom are often on opposite sides of environmental issues -  is water and watershed protection.

This campaign is truly a model for future conservation efforts in the state and across the country.  For more than four years, the coalition has been raising awareness and gaining the support of the local community.

What's next for Columbine Hondo bill?

We anticipate Sen. Bingaman formally introducing the bill early next week. With your help, we hope the Columbine Hondo becomes New Mexico’s newest Wilderness area before Sen. Bingaman retires at the end of this year.