2600 Acres Permanently Protected Within Río Grande Del Norte National Monument

Protection of spectacular landscape preserves traditional way of life for future generations

September 7, 2016
Taos, New Mexico

To the delight of the local community, The Trust for Public Land and the Bureau of Land Management announced today that 2,576 acres has been acquired by the Bureau of Land Management within the Río Grande Del Norte National Monument. The land has deep meaning for the local community as it has been an important part of Native American and later Hispanic culture for hundreds of years. Today descendants of these people continue to use the land for traditional practices including native plant and firewood gathering. Protection of this land will also ensure permanent access to recreation within the Monument.

“When this property came on the market, we knew how important it was to the local community and wanted to do everything we could to protect it from development,” said Greg Hiner, Project Manager at The Trust for Public Land. “I want to thank the Bureau of Land Management and New Mexico congressional delegation for their support, and especially the LOR Foundation for providing urgent funding. If not for the LOR Foundation, this beautiful place could have been lost to development.”

This new part of the Monument sits between the massive 9,475-foot Cerro de la Olla and the 8,800-foot Cerro Chiflo and lies just north of the 8,655-foot Cerro Montosa. It is located just one mile from the western border of the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Rivers Recreation Area, where the Red River joins the Río Grande in a dramatic 800-foot canyon, and could have been slated for development if not preserved.

“You can just sit here for hours and look at the clouds, look at the river,” said Esther Garcia, former Mayor of nearby Questa, whose family has lived in the area for 11 generations. “I am thankful that more of this beautiful area will be preserved for years to come.”

"I want to thank all of the partners who worked together to ensure this unique property was protected. The Río Grande del Norte National Monument is an area rich in history and culture and has long supported New Mexico’s traditional way of life. Today, the monument already is creating new jobs and additional economic benefits through tourism. The acquisition of this property will secure and increase access to the monument and help ensure it can live up to its promise for the community and all who will enjoy its spectacular beauty,” said Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM.

“The Río Grande del Norte is one of the most spectacular places on earth, and increasing access to it will boost the region’s economy and protect New Mexico’s rich cultural history and outdoor traditions for generations to come. This acquisition highlights the commitment of the local community to preserve this treasured landscape and would not have been possible without the tireless work of local partners, The Trust for Public Land, the LOR Foundation, and the Land and Water Conservation Fund,” said Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-NM

The land was bought from a private owner for $1.417 million.  Money for the purchase came from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).  The LWCF is funded through receipts from offshore oil and gas drilling and not from taxpayer dollars. The LOR Foundation provided The Trust for Public Land with a bridge loan to fund acquisition while waiting for the LWCF funding.  

The Río Grande del Norte National Monument is also important for local recreation. The area is known for hunting, camping, wildlife viewing, fishing, and whitewater rafting, all of which provide economic support for the area.

“This site offers a distinct and beautiful landscape for all New Mexicans to enjoy along with visitors who come from far and wide,” said Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-NM.  “Thanks to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which I have been a strong advocate for, this land that is a part of the culture and heritage of Northern New Mexico will be protected to ensure access for traditional uses and outdoor recreation that is a critical part of our economy and livelihoods.”

In 2013 with tremendous support from local residents, President Barack Obama designated the Río Grande del Norte National Monument under the authority of the Antiquities Act.  The acquisition will enhance outdoor recreation opportunities through improved public access to the interior of the monument and preservation of its rugged, wide-open landscape and vistas.

“The Río Grande del Norte National Monument is an important part of New Mexico’s history and a key part of its recreational future,” said Amy Lueders, Bureau of Land Management New Mexico State Director. “The BLM is excited to be a part of this acquisition that enhances BLM’s ability to protect cultural, biological and scenic resources within the National Monument for the public.”

The cultural significance of the property and the Monument in general dates back 14,000 years to the Pleistocene era, when native hunters first followed the massive migrating herds of woolly mammoth and bison into the region. The Monument has remains of the earliest known human cultures in the hemisphere with petroglyphs, tipi rings, wickiup structures, arrow heads, and pottery shards scattered across the landscape.