March 19, 2009

Senate Again Passes Udall Proposal to Create Sabinoso Wilderness Area

Legislation Contained in Bingaman Public Lands Package

WASHINGTON - By a vote of 77-20, the U.S. Senate today passed legislation to designate more than 17,000 acres in San Miguel County as wilderness. The Sabinoso Wilderness Act, legislation authored by Senator Tom Udall when he served in the House, was passed for a second time in a package of public land bills assembled by Senator Jeff Bingaman.


The proposed new wilderness area would contain lands currently included in the Sabinoso Wilderness Study Area. The land is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).


Udall, the BLM and local landowners worked together to develop this legislation to designate the area as wilderness, to protect the rugged and dramatic landscape. The area includes scenic canyons and mesas, which are home to a variety of wildlife, including mule deer, elk, mountain lions, and wild turkey. It is also rich in canyon vistas, including the 1,000-foot tall Canyon Largo, and impressive rock formations - all part of a vibrant Great Plains ecosystem.


"This legislation to protect and expand this amazing area for public us is the product of years of hard work on the local, state and federal level," said Udall. "I want to thank Senator Bingaman for including it in his lands package, which has now passed the Senate twice, and I call on the House to pass it quickly. It is time the Sabinoso Wilderness Act became law."


"This legislation gives Sabinoso the special attention it needs and deserves, and makes certain that it can be enjoyed by New Mexicans for years to come," Bingaman said.


The New Mexico State House of Representatives, led by Representative Thomas Garcia, and the San Miguel County Commission both passed resolutions calling on the New Mexico Congressional delegation to support the establishment of the Sabinoso Wilderness Area. The wilderness area would be open for grazing, hunting and other recreational uses.


The legislation will now move to the House of Representatives for consideration. On March 11, 2009, the House fell two votes short of the two-thirds vote necessary to approve similar legislation under special rules for expedited consideration. The Senate previously passed the legislation by a vote of 73-22 in January.