Natural and Historic Lands along Santa Fe River Protected

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today announced the protection of 30 acres of land, along with water rights which date to 1718. The land, eight miles southwest of Santa Fe is part of the BLM’s La Cienega Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), a 4,500 acre swath of public land deemed ecologically sensitive and historically significant.

This is the fourth acquisition of land formerly owned by the Rael family, creating an unbroken corridor of protected lands. TPL has worked with BLM and the family over the years to conserve 420 acres, including the latest 30-acre parcel that has the Rael historic home on it.

“La Cienega is a remarkable resource just minutes from downtown Santa Fe,” said Greg Hiner, TPL’s project manager. “Visitors can follow the river and experience a bit of our state’s unique cultural and natural heritage. We thank New Mexico’s congressional delegation, BLM, and the Rael family for all of their hard work to create this corridor and protect land along the Santa Fe River.”

The property was valued at $1.9 million and was paid for with money from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). U.S. Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall, both D-N.M. and Representative Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M. supported the use of LWCF funds for the purchase. LWCF is the federal government’s main source of funding for protecting public land. It is funded by royalties paid by energy companies in exchange for oil and gas extraction from federal offshore leases, and not taxpayer dollars.

“This purchase protects scenic vistas of the Santa Fe River, while providing new access for the public. I’m glad to have played a role in securing the funds needed for this acquisition,” said Sen. Bingaman, Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

“Resources from the federal Land and Wildlife Conservation Fund were put to good use to help purchase this historic riverside property in La Cienega,” said Sen. Udall. “It’s a valuable acquisition for the people of New Mexico and a testament to the great collaborative efforts of all those who came together for its preservation.”

“Protecting our majestic lands is critical not only to preserve the beauty of Northern New Mexico, but to care for our precious water resources as well,” Rep. Luján said. “By working together with TPL, BLM, and the Rael family, this latest acquisition of land marks a significant step in the effort to protect and enhance the land along the Santa Fe River for future generations.”

The senior water rights on this property are significant because it will help the BLM with its efforts to restore the river and important riparian habitat.

“The BLM is thankful to our Congressional Delegation and to the Trust for Public Land for their efforts on this acquisition,” said Jesse Juen, BLM New Mexico State Director. “The acquisition will benefit the public and allow BLM to protect valuable resources of significance to the local community and the Nation.”

“I am happy to have preserved our family property and to see this land remain as we left it,” said Marin Mier representative of the Rael family.

The La Cienega ACEC was established by the BLM in recognition of the fragile riparian environment and the rich cultural history of the area. Numerous Native American sites and artifacts are located there, along with the historic route of the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, the road connecting the Spanish capital in Mexico to Santa Fe as the capital of Nuevo Mexico.

The Trust for Public Land is the nation’s leader in creating parks and playgrounds in our cities, and also is the national leader in helping local communities create funding for conservation. In New Mexico TPL has conserved more than 150,000 acres.