Fourth Acquisition for Taos Overlook (NM)

TAOS, N.M., 4/2/02 – The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a nonprofit land conservation organization, today conveyed to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) 700 acres of the 2,581-acre Taos Valley Overlook property, seven miles south of Taos, bringing the effort to protect one of New Mexico’s most spectacular-and threatened-landscapes close to completion. The BLM will manage the land-located within the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River corridor-to protect its open space, recreational, and habitat values. A partnership among TPL, the Taos Land Trust, the BLM, the San Felipe Pueblo, and the New Mexico congressional delegation has now saved from development nearly 80 percent of the well-known property that affords motorists the stunning view of the Rio Grande Gorge from the top of the “horseshoe curve” on NM 68. The land includes high mesa desert, cliffs, and the green vegetation areas along the Rio Grande and will become available to visitors for low-impact recreational activities such as hiking, fishing, and picnicking. The public purchase protects habitat for wildlife, including the threatened Southwestern willow flycatcher, bald eagle and sensitive species such as the peregrine falcon.

“I continue to be amazed at the profound effect this land has on New Mexico residents and visitors alike. Everyone knows this property and everyone wants to see it protected. Now we can say we’re almost there!” said TPL’s New Mexico State Director Deborah Frey Love.

The Trust for Public Land negotiated a purchase agreement with the property’s owner, the Klauer Manufacturing Company of Dubuque, Iowa, for a three-phased purchase of the property. Funding for the land acquisition comes through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). With strong support from New Mexico’s congressional delegation, last year Congress appropriated $4 million for the purchase of the first phase of the property in the FY 2001 Interior Appropriations Bill.

The 700 acres transferred today were purchased with $4.5 million in LWCF funds appropriated by Congress in FY 2002.

Senator Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said, “I am glad to support the protection of this spectacular area. I will continue to work with the Trust for Public Land and local groups in Taos as we propel efforts to complete this important acquisition.” Sen. Domenici is a member of the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, which determines funding for the BLM acquisition.

Senator Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said, “I am pleased we are moving to protect this spectacular landscape for all New Mexicans to enjoy forever and I will continue to work with our local partners to complete this project.”

Representative Tom Udall, D-N.M., who has been a strong supporter of the acquisition, said, “This is a wonderful project and I am happy we are making sure future generations will see the same stunning views that people now enjoy in this region.”

The 218 acres transferred in September 2001 and 267 acres transferred in December 2001 were part of the second phase of the project. Additional funds must be appropriated this year (for FY 2003, which begins October 1, 2002) to purchase the third phase of the property and complete the purchase and protection of the entire 2,581 acres of the Taos Valley Overlook.