Hats off to Sen. Jeff Bingaman and Sen. Tom Udall for introducing a bill to permanently protect the Columbine Hondo Wilderness Study Area as wilderness. Hats off also to the community members known as the Columbine Hondo Wilderness Coalition, sportsmen's organizations, environmental organizations, guides and outfitters, grazing permitees, acequia associations and especially the community of Taos for coming together and serving as an example to the world in expressing how important it is to protect our wild places.
Columbine-Hondo Wilderness News
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U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-NM, has introduced legislation to create the 45,000-acre Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Area.
The Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Act, S. 2468, would grant permanent wilderness protection to the area, located near the Wheeler Peak Wilderness in the Carson National Forest. The Columbine-Hondo was designated a "Wilderness Study Area" in 1980 and managed as a wilderness area since. U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM, cosponsored the legislation to give the Columbine-Hondo full wilderness status.
Sportsmen and conservationists alike are applauding the news that their long-held dream of preserving some of New Mexico's most rugged wilderness is one step closer to reality.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) late last week introduced a bill to designate 45,000 acres of wilderness in northern New Mexico, a move he said enjoys nearly unanimous local support.
Senator Bingaman today introduced S. 2468, the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Act, to permanently protect the 45,000-acre Columbine Hondo Wilderness Study Area. The legislation was praised by a coalition of New Mexicans who have been working for years to see this wild land preserved.
Residents and officials from around Taos County gathered Tuesday (April 10) to celebrate a proposal that would give full-fledged wilderness protection to the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Study Area while also creating new cycling opportunities nearby. The Columbine-Hondo, which sits between the Latir and Wheeler Peak wildernesses and includes Lobo Peak, Gold Hill and Flag Mountain, gained “wilderness study area” status three decades ago.
Residents and officials from around Taos County gathered Tuesday (April 10) to celebrate a proposal that would give full-fledged wilderness protection to the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Study Area while also creating new cycling opportunities nearby.
The Columbine-Hondo, which sits between the Latir and Wheeler Peak wildernesses and includes Lobo Peak, Gold Hill and Flag Mountain, gained “wilderness study area” status three decades ago.
For the last several years a diverse coalition has been working quietly to lay the groundwork for a new Wilderness Area near Taos. With New Mexico’s senior Senator and long-time wilderness advocate, Jeff Bingaman, set to retire soon, the group recently took its campaign public. KUNM’s Conservation Beat reporter Sidsel Overgaard headed north to find out more.
Listen to audio of this radio story:
Everyone has a story and everyone has history. Tragically, most of us have lost or somehow forgotten important pieces of our story in the passing of generations. Some have a name for this - they call it "progress."
New Mexico is one of the few states in our union that has a complete historical and cultural record with unbroken ties back to the origin of its traditional, land-based cultures. This epic tale - which is steeped in diversity, tradition and heritage - starts something like this:
During the past 37 years, I've spent considerable time hiking in the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Study Area and surrounding mountains near Taos Ski Valley. The entire area needs full, permanent wilderness status because of the recreation it supports year-round, the clean water it provides to the Rio Hondo and Red River, and the wildlife. Overall, the area is good habitat for game species such as elk and deer in summer, and bighorn sheep, bear, turkey and grouse year-round. The area also provides habitat for many nongame species such as American marten, White-tailed ptarmigan, lynx and raptors.
As we residents know, Taos is special. It’s so special in fact, that millions of people from all over the world have traveled here to enjoy our exceptional, unspoiled landscapes. This means millions of much needed dollars that flow into our town and our state.
Imagine if we as a community consistently ban together as a “residential task force” of sorts and demand protection of this beautiful part of the country. Organizations like Taos Friends United and The Taos Land Trust are essential for this kind of preservation.