Environment New Mexico to Congress: Keep New Mexico’s Parks Open, Protected from Development

Environment New Mexico

Albuquerque, NM – On the first day of spring, Environment New Mexico unveiled a list of the top ten reasons why special places across New Mexico deserve protection from development.

As Congress debates the nation’s budget this week in DC, Environment New Mexico held a news conference today asking Congress to keep special places like Miranda Canyon and Price’s Dairy open and protected from development.

“We can’t afford to let developers literally cement the fate of our special places with more development and subdivisions,” said Rikki Seguin, field associate with Environment New Mexico. “It’s time for our leaders to defend Miranda Canyon and Price’s Dairy.”

Here are a few of the reasons presented by Environment New Mexico for why Congress should protect New Mexico’s special places:

·    Conservation projects in New Mexico contribute greatly to the local economy. For example, The Outdoor Industry Association has found that active outdoor recreation contributes $3.8 billion annually to the state’s economy, supports 47,000 jobs across New Mexico.
·    Miranda Canyon boasts rock formations dating 1.7 billion years old, rivaling that found at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
·    The purchase of Price’s Dairy and its pre-1907 senior water rights is essential to maintaining the health of the Rio Grande which provides drinking and irrigation water to 1.3 million New Mexicans.

Environment New Mexico was joined by Bernalillo County Deputy Manager, Vince Murphy, on behalf of Bernalillo County Commissioner Art De La Cruz, and Greg Hiner, Project Manager with the Trust for Public Land.

“Protecting parks and open spaces is critical to our quality of life here in New Mexico,” said Commissioner De La Cruz.

“With development encroaching on places like Miranda Canyon, the beauty and natural habitats are being put at risk,” said Hiner of the Trust for Public Land. “Now more than ever, we need to secure protection for our special places.”

Even though there’s no contesting the immeasurable ecological and recreational values of special places across New Mexico, developers show no sign of stopping their advance. In fact, developers recently attempted to subdivide Miranda Canyon into 150 lots, an effort thwarted by outcry from local citizens.
Thankfully, Senators Udall and Heinrich have stepped up and worked to defend Miranda Canyon and Price’s Dairy from this encroachment by co-sponsoring legislation which would fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

The LWCF is a federal program with a track record of success in New Mexico. It provides places like Miranda Canyon and Price’s Dairy with critical protection from increased development by putting a fraction of the royalties from offshore oil drilling toward our state and federal agencies being able to purchase privately-owned land within or surrounding the park. Otherwise this land becomes vulnerable to pollution and development, threating the local ecosystem.

Unfortunately, Congress annually raids the LWCF for non-conservation purposes, leaving a legacy of backlogged conservation and recreation needs.  Earlier this week, Senator Barrasso (R-WY) and Senator Boozman (R-AR) each tried to further slash the program.  

At the same time, New Mexicans have already seen massive cuts to our Park Service budget, affecting our ability to enjoy places like Carlsbad Caverns, who’s Superintendent voiced concerns over how longer sequestration will negatively affect the park.

Congress will vote on funding levels for the Land and Water Conservation Fund as well as the National Parks budget this week as a part of the FY14 budget. “I thank Senators Udall and Heinrich for standing up once again for New Mexico’s natural heritage by supporting full and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and urge them to do everything possible to make sure that Miranda Canyon, Price’s Dairy, and other parks can stay open and in great working condition now and in the future,” said Seguin.

Read the Top Ten Reasons Why Special Places Across New Mexico Deserve Protection.