Historic Northern NM Property Near Taos Will Be Protected

A historic 5,000 acre property near Taos will be protected by adding it to the Carson National Forest, The Trust for Public Land (TPL), announced today.

The land, just south of Taos, includes part of the Old Spanish Trail, a mule trail used as a trade route between New Mexico and California during the mid-1800s, and a number of artifacts from the Pueblo Indians, Spanish settlers and others have been found on the property. The northwest slope of Picuris Peak is located on the property, which forms the backdrop to Taos along Route 68 and is also the watershed feeding aquifers that provide water to the nearby communities of Llano Quemado and Ranchos de Taos.

TPL bought the property from Weimer Properties LLC, a company representing the families which have owned the land for generations. A proposal to develop the property into numerous homesites had been under consideration by the family for the past several years. Eventually, Weimer Properties representatives and TPL came to the table to find a conservation option for the property, and have now concluded a sale of the first 3,700 acres, with an agreement in place to acquire the remaining 1,300 acres in 2013.

TPL Project Manager Greg Hiner said, “We needed to act to make sure this outstanding property was not developed in the future. TPL will hold it over the next few years while we work with the US Forest Service and the New Mexico Congressional delegation to add it to the Carson National Forest.” That will happen when funds from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund are available for the U.S. Forest Service to purchase the property from TPL.

Todd Barbee, Project Manager for the Weimer Properties, LLC, said “The Weimer Property shareholders, Roy Cunnygham, Sheri Dea Weimer Brown and Alexander Weimer, heirs of the late Marcia Cunnygham and Mel Weimer, chose to place this extraordinarily beautiful property in conservation hands to honor their parents, and five generations of Taoseños, who have done so much for the City and County of Taos over the many years, beginning with their visionary great-great grandfather Alexander Gusdorf in the 1870’s.”

The Taos County Commissioner, Andrew Chavez said, “This historic property is an important piece of heritage to our town. I am very proud to have worked with Senator Jeff Bingaman, the US Forest Service, TPL and the many, many local people wrote letters of support and signed petitions to save this property – without which the conservation of this land would not have been possible.”

The Trust for Public Land is a national land conservation organization which preserves land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways and wilderness areas. Founded in 1972, TPL has protected more than 2.9 million acres in 47 states. In New Mexico, TPL is proud to have helped create the Santa Fe Railyards and protect Sun Mountain. TPL depends on the support of individuals, corporations, and foundations.