New Mexico boasts some of nation’s most majestic wildlands, from the snowy peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the wind-tossed grasses of Otero Mesa, all linked by the mighty Rio Grande. People love and cherish these places, with almost 9 in 10 New Mexicans saying the state's clean air, water and environment are a factor in living there and more than three-quarters calling themselves "conservationists."
But even with all that support, wild places in New Mexico are facing major threats thanks to the efforts of the Trump administration and extreme politicians. These include proposals to slash sensible environmental rules and prioritize energy development above all else.
New Mexico’s beloved lands belong to all of us. They are, quite simply, “Our Wild.” And the best gift we can give future generations is to make sure these lands stay healthy, whole and safe for all to enjoy.
In order to protect #OurWild way of life, we need more New Mexicans to join the fight against Trump’s attacks.
Threats to New Mexico public lands:
- Drilling and mining in Otero Mesa. Under the Trump administration, the Bureau of Land Management is trying to open up the Otero Mesa area for oil and gas development. This could degrade America’s largest and wildest Chihuahuan grassland.
- Ancient ruins, landscapes and park experiences at risk around Chaco Canyon. The Trump administration is seeking to lease lands for oil and gas development near Chaco Canyon National Historical Park, which is home to some of America’s most abundant, intact Native American ruins and artifacts and some of America's clearest night skies. Drilling here could threaten yet-undiscovered artifacts and pollute the air in and around the park.
- Reckless oil and gas development near Chihuahan Desert rivers. The Chihuahuan Desert river ecosystem around Carlsbad Caverns is full of oil and gas leases as well as a tangle of pipelines and roads that contribute to habitat loss and fragmentation. We need the Department of the Interior to adopt a better plan that limits drilling in the area and restores balance.
- Methane leaks hurt climate and taxpayers. Oil and gas drilling operations on public lands leak or vent a tremendous amount of methane, a climate change-driving greenhouse gas 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide. In addition to environmental impacts, this natural gas waste is a drain on the economy: in New Mexico, it costs taxpayers up to $27 million a year in lost royalties.
- Cibola, Santa Fe, Carson, and Gila national forests vulnerable to logging and development. National forests across New Mexico are vulnerable to logging, industrial development and climate change because these forests are operating under outdated management plans from the early 1980s. We are working to make sure our forests are managed sustainably using the best available science and that their wildest places are preserved.
- New Mexico monument lands under threat. In 2017, the Trump administration launched an illegal effort to roll back protections for national monument lands across the nation. In New Mexico, they included Rio Grande del Norte National Monument and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. These places are still threatened by size reductions or management changes that could allow development, mining and irresponsible off-highway vehicle use in formerly protected areas. The law that originally protected the monument lands, as well as Carlsbad Caverns, Gila Cliff Dwellings and others, is also under attack.
- Forests threatened by unneeded new roads. The Cibola, Carson, Gila, Santa Fe and other national forests in New Mexico contain thousands of acres of "inventoried roadless areas." These are unusually wild and untouched stretches of land where natural habitat exists and species thrive. New proposals could end up undermining these protections and threaten truly special, undeveloped places.
- Public lands privatized or sold for profit. In recent years, politicians have introduced multiple bills to turn millions of acres of New Mexico public lands over to the state and create studies or task forces to study the process of seizing these lands. History shows us how dangerous that is: in a little over a century of statehood, New Mexico has liquidated about 30 percent of the land originally granted to it and sold it to mining, oil and gas companies, railroads and other development interests.
- Transmission and pipeline corridors cutting through wildlands. Federal agencies need to designate some large stretches of land for transmission lines and other infrastructure projects, but they should do so in a way that avoids harm to sensitive habitat. In New Mexico, the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management want to run power lines through unspoiled areas such as Magdalena Mountains and Mescalero Sands. They should adjust these plans to ensure the wildest lands are protected while providing better access for renewable energy projects.