On the rugged flank of Mount Taylor in New Mexico, herds of elk migrate through stands of ponderosa pine. Black bears and mountain lions roam across grasslands down into dense valleys of pinyon and juniper. Fractured rock ledges, cliffs of rose and mauve, and towering mesas add to the wild landscape. Part of the vast terrain is considered sacred and culturally significant by as many as 30 Native American tribes. This is the L Bar project, a 54,161-acre expanse of land that was once privately owned.
The landscape sits near two of New Mexico’s most populous cities—Albuquerque and Santa Fe—and its protection creates access and opportunities to camp, hike, or bird for locals and visitors alike. Similarly, New Mexico hunters will have more local, attainable sources for feeding their families.
Nearly 400,000 acres in and around Mount Taylor, including lands within the L Bar project, were designated a traditional cultural property under state law. The Pueblo of Acoma, the Pueblo of Laguna, the Hopi Tribe, the Navajo Nation, and the Pueblo of Zuni have called the area home for thousands of years. Now that this landscape is protected, members of the tribes, nations, and pueblos once again have access to their ancestral lands. Protecting this land also connects vital wildlife habitat and migration corridors that might otherwise have been broken up by development.
In 2022, Trust for Public Land secured the L Bar property with help from the State of New Mexico, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, the local community, and other partners. It will ultimately be added to the Marquez State Wildlife Area, more than quadrupling the wildlife area’s size, making it the largest in the state. Generations of people will have access to this culturally and ecologically rich landscape in perpetuity. The property will open to the public on a future date.
Directions to L Bar