796 Acres Added to Santa Fe Ntl. Forest (NM)

JEMEZ SPRINGS, NM, 4/18/05– The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) announced today the permanent public protection of 796 acres adjacent to the Jemez National Recreation Area. Just an hour’s drive from both Albuquerque and Santa Fe, the Mesita Blanca property is perched on a 6,500- foot-high mesa overlooking the village of Ca?on and the spectacular red sandstone canyons along Route 4, a New Mexico state designated scenic byway.

Funds for the purchase of the property, valued at $2.3 million, came from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) through the vision and leadership of New Mexico’s Congressional Delegation, including Senator Pete Domenici, who sits on the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee and is Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee; Senator Jeff Bingaman, Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and a longtime champion of the LWCF, and Congressman Tom Udall, a member of the House Resources Committee and consistent supporter of the LWCF.

“The stature of the Jemez Mountains as a recreational and tourist destination continues to grow. I am pleased Congress agreed with the Bush administration’s request to use the Land and Water Conservation program to keep this unique area open to the general public as part of a broader recreation area,” said Senator Domenici.

“Mesita Blanca is truly a spectacular property. I am pleased that the federal government is joining the Trust for Public Land in making this important investment in our state,” Senator Bingaman said.

“The acquisition of the Mesita Blanca property will ensure that this New Mexico treasure will continue to be available for generations to come,” commented Congressman Udall. “It is a magnificent area that offers unending opportunities for solitude, peace and quiet. This proposal is a win-win for citizens and our public lands,” he continued.

Gilbert Zepeda, Santa Fe National Forest Supervisor, explained that by acquiring this property, the public has gained another point of access to National Forest, and recreational opportunities in and around the Jemez National Recreation Area have been further enhanced. In addition, by removing 800 acres from the wildland-urban interface, the Forest Service has succeeded in reducing potential wildfire danger resulting from the rural homesite development this property was slated for.

“The Trust for Public Land is grateful for the consistent support provided by New Mexico’s Congressional delegation efforts to protect New Mexico’s natural resources. TPL is committed to protecting New Mexico’s treasured landscapes, by acquiring at-risk properties for public ownership and securing greater recreational access,” says Deb Love, Director, TPL-New Mexico. “This is our fourth project within the Jemez Ranger District, where together with our partners, we have protected over 100,000 acres. Mesita Blanca is a wonderful new addition to our public land holdings.”

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and other natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. TPL-New Mexico has protected more than 118,069 acres of land in New Mexico for a fair market value of over $90 million. TPL depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations and businesses to achieve its land for people mission. For more information, please visit www.tpl.org/newmexico.

Posted 4/2005