Trust for Public Land Protects 3,700 Acres Bordering Rio Grande del Norte National Monument

Marks the 10th TPL Project to Protect and Expand in and around Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument Over 25,000 Acres

Taos, NM – Today, Trust for Public Land [TPL] announced the protection of over 3,700 acres of high-priority lands adjacent to the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. These lands, located next to the Taos Valley Overlook, feature critical wildlife habitat and high-value recreational opportunities. The land was acquired by TPL and conveyed to the Bureau of Land Management [BLM] to expand and secure the national monument. 

“This project is the culmination of 20 years of work with the Taos community to protect nationally significant lands at the heart of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument,” said Jim Petterson, Trust for Public Land’s Mountain West Region Vice President. “These newly protected lands offer opportunities for expanded recreational access and secure a vital wildlife corridor. We are grateful for Senator Heinrich’s vigorous efforts on behalf of this project, the national monument and to expanding public land access in New Mexico.”  

“The Rio Grande del Norte National Monument has protected the natural wonders and cultural heritage that have always made Northern New Mexico unique. This historic expansion of our public lands system will block future commercial development near the Monument, protecting the hiking, whitewater rafting, hunting, fishing, and traditional land uses that have made the Rio Grande del Norte such a treasured place,” said Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico. “It’s why I’ve worked so hard to secure federal resources and work with the local Taos community to steer this acquisition through every step of the process. With the support and partnership of TPL, we are creating new outdoor recreation opportunities, protecting an important wildlife corridor, and preserving the beauty of our public lands.” 

The acquisition of these private lands will protect a nationally significant landscape encompassed by the Rio Grande del Norte, while enhancing public access from the south side of New Mexico Highway 68, leading to increased recreational opportunities, expanded trail systems, and connections to the Carson National Forest. Additionally, the acquisition will allow for an improved public overlook of the iconic Rio Grande Gorge. 

“The Bureau of Land Management is proud to partner on this effort to protect a nationally significant landscape at the heart of Rio Grande del Norte, increasing recreational access and economic opportunities throughout New Mexico,” said BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning.  “The Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument is home to rugged open plains, abundant wildlife and is an economic driver for the local community. Thanks to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, we are able to partner with Trust for Public Land to acquire this property, which will provide more access to public land and safeguard this precious place for generations to come.” 

This project was made possible thanks to a remarkable collaboration among Trust for Public Land, New Mexico elected officials, the Bureau of Land Management, many members of the Taos community, the Taos Pueblo, the Klauer family and others. The first $4 million to support this $16.6 million acquisition was made possible through a Congressionally designated spending request secured by U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich. The balance of the funding came from the BLM’s Recreation Access Fund, which is funded by the Land and Water Conservation Fund. 

Created in 2013, the over 242,000-acre Rio Grande del Norte National Monument was established to protect incredible scenic, cultural and historic values, while safeguarding public access and traditional uses, supporting the region’s recreation economy strengthening surrounding communities. 

“The addition of the Klauer Property will be a great asset to public lands and those who use them in New Mexico, including members of Taos Pueblo.  There is an incredible array of public and pueblo lands in the area that encompass a remarkable wealth of ecosystems and watersheds that are the lifeblood of our community. We have the confidence in BLM that ‘best management practices’ will be implemented in a manner that protects cultural and natural resources for future generations to come,” said Taos Tribal Secretary Dwayne Lefthand. 

“The Klauer family is very pleased to have worked in partnership with TPL and the BLM to once again help preserve the open vistas and scenic character of Taos and the Monument,” said Jim Klauer the spokesman for the landowners. “We see this project as a culmination of the work we did with both parties to preserve the Taos Valley Overlook in the early 2000s. In particular, we see this project as a testament to the late WJ Klauer, the patriarch of the Klauer family, who wished to see this property preserved for public use.” 

Over the last two decades, TPL has completed ten land acquisition projects in and around the national monument – protecting over 25,000 acres, creating new trailheads, and improving access points that unlock public lands access. TPL has been instrumental in protecting lands that are the bookends for the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument – the Taos Valley Overlook and Ute Mountain – as well as critical inholdings within the monument near Cerro de la Olla. The importance of this landscape and its value as lands for the public was celebrated two years ago by TPL, New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich and United States Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland.

These projects would not have been possible without the funding provided through the Land Water Conservation Fund [LWCF], which totals nearly $41 million for protection of iconic landscapes, such as Ute Mountain and the Taos Valley Overlook. Further, LWCF funding has supported the addition of over 2,500 acres inside monument boundaries. Securing these lands with LWCF ended the threat of incompatible development, improved public access and protected critical elk migration habitat in the region.

The unique setting of the monument features rugged, wide-open plains dotted by volcanic cones and cut by steep canyons with rivers tucked away in their depths. The 800-foot-deep Rio Grande Gorge, and volcanic cones, including 10,093 –foot-tall Ute Mountain, have been used for generations by Native American and Hispanic people for hunting, grazing, and gathering. 


About Trust for Public Land   

Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit that works to connect everyone to the benefits and joys of the outdoors. As a leader in equitable access to the outdoors, TPL works with communities to create parks and protect public land where they are needed most. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 4 million acres of public land, created more than 5,420 parks, trails, schoolyards, and iconic outdoor places, raised $94 billion in public funding for parks and public lands, and connected nearly 9.7 million people to the outdoors. To learn more, visit