Sun Mountain Land Protected

SANTA FE: The Trust for Public Land has completed its Sun Mountain project and protected 23 acres from development, TPL announced today. A treasured piece of land will now be preserved for the entire community.

“This is a great conservation victory for all involved who worked hard to protect Sun Mountain for future generations to enjoy. Today we’ve completed the job,” said Jenny Parks, TPL New Mexico Director. “We are guaranteeing public access to the top of Sun Mountain, which has never been there before, an outcome to be very proud of!”

The protected land is the 23-acre Watson property at the base of Sun Mountain, one of Santa Fe’s most beautiful mountains and an icon of the city. Sun Mountain is a pristine stretch of undisturbed native landscape and wildlife habitat within the city limits, but it had been threatened by the approval of a development of up to 13 large structures on the property.

TPL was approached last summer by a group of local citizens to protect the land, Ms. Parks said. The grassroots group, the Save Sun Mountain Coalition, worked with the developer, the city and TPL to preserve the iconic piece of land that was revered for its viewscape, its access to open space and as the gateway to Santa Fe’s high mountains. “Together, we have created something that will be enjoyed in Santa Fe for many years to come,” Ms. Parks said.

The purchase price was $3.2 million. An anonymous conservation buyer put forth $1.4 million and bought less than half of the acreage. He has agreed to limit development to two sites. Another $1,264,000 was raised from more than 300 private donors. This money will enable TPL-New Mexico to donate 11.2 acres of the property to the city. The existing Watson house will be sold in a public auction early next year to bridge the funding gap.

TPL is a national nonprofit land conservation organization dedicated to conserving land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens and open space. Founded in 1972, TPL has protected 2.7 million acres nationwide. TPL has had an office in Santa Fe since 1982 and has preserved more than 150,000 acres of treasured landscapes in the state. Most recently, TPL New Mexico built the Railyard Park and Plaza in Santa Fe.

The Save Sun Mountain Coalition is a group of concerned local citizens who wanted a conservation solution.