Letter From Western Heritage Association to the President 3/13/2014
Congressman Pearce introduced HR 995 “Organ Mountains National Monument
Establishment Act” on March 6, 2013. We support the bill for the same
reasons listed under support for HR 4334. They are basically the same
bill in content and protect livestock grazing and ranching practices,
watershed maintenance and flood control access, border security and law
enforcement access. The proposed national monument under HR 995 is for
58,512 acres and would release the wilderness study areas in the Organ
Senators Udall and Heinrich
introduced S 1805 “Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Conservation Act” on
December 13, 2013. We are opposed to the bill as written because the
acreage has grown to almost 500,000 acres with 241,067 acres
of wilderness designation and 257,748 acres of national monument
management. The total acreage would be called a National Monument and
managed under the BLM, but would have 2 very different schemes of
management-wilderness and national monument and cause much confusion for
ranches, law enforcement, flood control and watershed management. Both
types of management in the bill are based on “protection” and not multiple
use that they are currently be managed under. The bill does not protect
grazing, watershed management and flood control or give law enforcement
and border patrol the access they need to carry out their missions.
The reasons for opposing the bill are
the same as under S1024 and would put restrictions on access of 22
percent of Dona Ana County in addition to the almost 25 percent of the
county already under restricted access.
For a concise history of the issues of the efforts to impose Wilderness
designation in Dona Ana County,
read this article by Stephen L. Wilmeth:
The Battle of Dona Ana County
Letters to the President from Dona Ana County
Order for National Monument Designation
legislation, H.R. 4334, provides the following:
·Permanently protects the Organ Mountains ACEC
·Protects many historical and cultural sites
·Pursues the legislative route for National Monument protection
(instead of Presidential Executive Order)
·Process is open for debate and input
·Public hearings will be held to identify and discuss the issues
·Puts in writing what is being protected and preserved
·Allows for grazing to continue
·Protects the watershed for continued management for flood control
·Protects valid water rights
·Allows for motorized vehicle use to conduct routine ranch
·Protects against new roads, except for emergency use
·Protects current rights of way, and allows changes if approved
·Leaves in place current protections for other lands in Dona Ana
·Protects land within the 58,412 acre boundary from disposal, trade,
development, sale, mineral exploration, leasing or mining including
·Purposes section of the bill provides legislative protection for
conserving, protecting and enhancing the cultural, traditional,
archaeological, natural, ecological, geological, historical, wildlife,
watershed, educational, recreations, and scenic resources for the benefit
and enjoyment of present and future generations
On the positive side, Representative
Steve Pearce has introduced H.R. 4334, the Organ Mountains National
Monument Establishment Act to protect 58,512 acres. This would
protect the footprint of the Organ Mountains and the Sierra Vista trail
south to the New Mexico-Texas boundary. This bill would protect
grazing, water rights, rights of way, watershed management, motorized use
on designated trails and other items. This bill will have
public hearings and is open for debate.
On the negative side, the New Mexico
Wilderness Alliance supporters have unveiled a proposed Organ
Mountain-Desert Peaks National Monument which would lockup 600,000 acres.
They are pushing President Obama to sign an Executive Order to designate
the 600,000 acres, approximately 25% of Dona Ana County, as a National Monument. This document is not
out for the public to review, and therefore we have no idea of its
impact on grazing, hunting, horseback riding, biking, camping, law
enforcement or border security. It is not clear who would
manage the land: National Park Service to the Bureau of Land
Some facts about National Monuments (NMs)
in New Mexico:
New Mexico National Monuments:
Aztec Ruins, Capulin Volcano, El Morro, Gila Cliff Dwellings,
Petroglyphs, Salinas Pueblo, Bandelier, El Maplais, Fort Union, Tent
Rocks, Prehistoric Trackways, White Sands
There are 12 National Monuments in New
Mexico; 11 have management plans
10 are managed by the National Park
Service, 2 are managed by the BLM
HUNTING is allowed in 11 of the 12 NMs
HUNTING is discouraged in order
to protect native wildlife
GRAZING is allowed in 11 of the 12 NMs
NPS policy is to eliminate commercial grazing
by "non-native species"
OVERNIGHT RV CAMPING is allowed in 10 of the 12 NMs
BACKPACK CAMPING is allowed in 9 of the 12 NMs
VEHICLE USE allowed on trails per NPS policy to limit
RIDING in Bandelier NM is limited to 2 groups of 6 horses
No FUEL WOOD
RESTRICTIONS: NPS policy states that
"within the National Park System boundaries, the Service will fulfill
its law enforcement responsibilities using NPS employees"
are charged in 9 of the 12 NMs (NM currently have free of charge
NPS policy for
PETS (except guide dogs) are prohibited from entering
National Monument buildings, visitor centers, ranger led activities,
using trails and all back country areas per NPS policy. Where
allowed on trails, pets must be on 6 ft. leashes at all times.
These are just SOME
of our concerns with the NMWA proposed 600,000 acre lockup.
Pursues the legislative
route for National Monument protection
Process is open for debate
Public hearings will be held
to identify and discuss the issues
Puts in writing what is
being protected and preserved
Allows for grazing to
Protects the watershed for
continued management for flood control
Protects valid water rights
Allows for motorized vehicle
use to conduct routine ranch operations
Protects against new roads,
except for emergency use
Protects current rights of
way, and allows changes if approved through NEPA
Leaves in place current
protections for other lands in Dona Ana County
Protects land within the
58,412 acre boundary from disposal, trade, development, sale, mineral
exploration, leasing or mining including geothermal
Purposes section provides
legislative protection for conserving, protecting and enhancing the
cultural, traditional, archaeological, natural, ecological, geological,
historical, wildlife, watershed, educational, recreations, and scenic
resources for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations
When land is designated as
Federal Wilderness under the 1964
Wilderness Act, there are numerous prohibitions, such as:
no permanent road within any
no temporary road
no use of motorized vehicles
no mechanized equipment
no landing of aircraft
no form of mechanical transport
no structure or installation
These prohibitions do not allow for
Border Patrol or other law enforcement agencies to perform routine
patrols in Wilderness. They can not utilize sensors, radio
transmitters or microwave towers for surveillance in designated
Wilderness. The only way for them to travel in the Wilderness is
on foot or on horseback, unless it is deemed an emergency. There
is a Memo of Understanding
(MOU) between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department
of Interior and U.S. Department of Agriculture that will allow
emergency entry, but it has not been tested in New Mexico because
there is not any designated Wilderness along the border.
As of July, 2010, more than 28,000 people have
been killed in
drug related violence since 2006. We do not want create a
smuggling corridor in our county that will invite this type of
criminal violence to move in to our community.
Attacks on the Mexican government and civilians, including
journalists, are escalating.
This section of our home page is just a brief
overview. See our
Wilderness On The Border
page for a more information on why W.H.A. and others
in our community strongly oppose this detrimental legislation.
Also see the News New Mexico coverage on
"The presence of any wilderness on the
Mexican border is a danger to the security of the United States." Jim Switzer, National Association
of Former Border Patrol Officers
"...when wilderness designations are in enforcement
areas, they can substantially affect the ability to conduct necessary daily
operations and limit the construction of infrastructure." Commissioner
Alan Bersin, U.S. Customs and
"Smuggling organizations quickly learn to
scout, identify, occupy and utilize unguarded border locations. To
disrupt criminal operations, Border Patrol officers must have COMPLETE
access TO ALL AREAS adjacent to the border. Border Patrol agents must
have the flexibility to monitor and have a PHYSICAL PRESENCE to confront
illegal activity, regardless of where it occurs along our borders.
Failure to do so gives the perpetrators the upper hand, established routes
of safe passage into the U.S., and weakens the first line of defense.
The control of ANY corridor translates into the control of all illegal
activity in that corridor. Border Patrol must have access to ALL
trafficking corridors, NO EXCEPTIONS. Our borders have never been so
severely tested. The United States is at a critical crossroads
regarding our sovereignty and national security. Anything that impedes the
Border Patrol from actively patrolling corridors automatically enables and
enhances criminal activity. The authority vested in Border Patrol
agents must be UNENCUMBERED. Wilderness designation creates
significant impediments for Border Patrol." Buck Brandemuehl, Chief of U.S. Border Patrol (Retired),
Border Security Forum, Las Cruces, May 2010 (large PDF of presentation)
"Today, our National Security and overall
Public Safety is under constant threat of assault in the border region
between the United States and Mexico. Daily, the Americans that live
in the border states and particularly those that actually live within the
border region are in imminent danger due to the amount of the violent crime
that is taking place on public lands. The lawlessness that exists on
public lands in the border region is an open invitation to terrorists.
The horrible face of terrorism is seen everywhere along the Mexican Border.
Illegal aliens and drugs are passing through these public lands undetected." Thomas J.
Cronin, Chairman, National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers
"... the criminal activities and
violence of the drug trafficking organizations in Mexico is not only an
international threat, it is a homeland security issue in which all Americans
have a stake. ... ICE recognizes the severity of the violence and illicit
activity in Cuidad Juarez." Alonzo R. Peña, the U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement Deputy Assistant Secretary for
work in the National Park Service is the most dangerous in federal service. National Park Service officers are 12 times more
likely to be killed or injured as a result of an assault than FBI agents.
Overall, NPS law enforcement has a morbidity rate triple that of the next
worst federal agency."
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility
"Obviously, the impact of that policy [*] is severe on our
operations," he said. "When you can't drive in those areas, it makes it
impossible to patrol and enforce the law, and it transforms it into a
sanctuary for illegal aliens." [*] - "that
policy" is referring to federal land management policies such as Wilderness,
National Wildlife Refuge, etc. that hinder Border Patrol operations.
Fox News report. July 2010) T.J.
Bonner, president of the National Border Council, the union for Border
"El Paso, Texas, whose sister city
in Mexico - Juarez - has become as deadly as any war zone thanks to the drug
"The cartels make billion-dollar profits
trafficking drugs. Gaining and controlling border access is critical
to their operations. They maintain that control through bribery,
extortion, intimidation, and extreme violence. Some areas on the
Mexican side of the border are so violent they are reminiscent of the
gangster era of Chicago in the 1930s or the heyday of the Mafia's Five
Families in New York. ... In Juarez, decapitated heads of murdered cartel
members have been displayed on fence posts to intimidate rivals."
"The disturbing level of violence
sometimes overshadows the national security risks along the border"
"The kidnappings, beatings, and murders
that mark the extreme drug-related violence of Mexican border cities such as
Tijuana and Juarez have increasingly spilled over the border."
"Thanks to drug money, the cartels have
enormous power - and they use it to bribe, intimidate and murder."
MORE INFORMATION, ARTICLES, QUOTES & GOVERNMENT
This section of our home page is just an
overview. See our
Wilderness On The Border
page for a more complete set of quotes and information on why W.H.A. and others
in our community strongly oppose this detrimental legislation.
WESTERN HERITAGE ALLIANCE AUDIO/VISUAL PRESENTATIONS
The following short presentations were
created by People for Preserving Our Western Heritage. We hope you will find these
presentations informative and helpful in understanding the complex issues
related to Federal Wilderness designation.
presentation presents information obtained from a
National Park Study and a
Department of Interior
Threat Assessment report about the devastating
impacts of designated federal Wilderness on our country's southern border.
Bishop (Utah) regarding the information in this NPS and DOI reports.
presentation provides an overview of what is involved in a Federal
Wilderness designation, separating the "spirit" of wilderness
from the reality of the legislative designation of wilderness.
This presentation takes a high level look at the impacts and ramifications
that result from Federal Wilderness designation.
presentation goes through a very brief history of ranching, and looks at
several of the ways that a Federal Wilderness designation impacts ranching
operations, rangeland and wildlife conservation. This presentation
will give the viewer a much better understanding of why the ranching
community is so concerned about proposed Federal Wilderness designation for
lands that have active grazing allotments and existing ranching operations.
For border security news, see the
M3 Report -
Reports derived and translated directly from Mexican and Central American
News Sources by the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers (NAFBPO)
The Westerner blog regularly posts articles related to border security and
Wilderness designation. Here are links to the Westerner posts by
The City of Las Cruces conducted Regional Land Planning meetings in 2006/2007.
had the opportunity to provide their perspectives on the priorities for
preservation of the special areas in Dona Ana County. Click the
following link for a brief history of the Dona Ana County Wilderness proposal.
The findings from this effort were documented in the
Management, A Community Response Findings, April 2007 document.
Additionally, members of
W.H.A. (formerly PFPOWH) met with numerous professionals, groups, organizations, businesses and
individuals in and around Dona Ana County. Based on these meetings and
discussions, we prepared the following list of "Community Expectations" for
responsible and appropriate management and preservation for the identified
Federal lands in our county.
for Preserving Our Western Heritage holds these Community Expectations as
the standard that must be met for any proposed legislation affecting Federal
land protection and management.
ANA COUNTY COMMUNITY EXPECTATIONS
Permanent retention of open space
2. Provision for planned economic and population growth
3. Unrestricted application of Homeland Security and law enforcement
4. Prevention of the unlawful use of motorized vehicles off designated
5. Continued access to the areas for ALL segments of the public
6. Perpetuation of historic ranching operations
7. Access for flood control and water capture projects
8. Enhancement of wildlife and rangeland health
9. Integrity with respect to historic Wilderness concepts and law
ANA COUNTY PLANNED GROWTH,
OPEN SPACE AND RANGELAND PRESERVATION ACT ----- THE PEOPLE'S PROPOSAL -----
Help us PERMANENTLY PRESERVE
these special areas
for the public's ACCESS, ENJOYMENT and BENEFICIAL USE.
For additional background information,
WHAT IS "WILDERNESS"? - AN
OVERVIEW OF THE ISSUES
It is in the public interest to
retain some lands in Federal ownership, for the benefit of all people. Aldo
Leopold, a key individual in the history of the original Wilderness Act, once
wrote: “A wilderness should be big enough to absorb a two-week pack trip
without crossing your own tracks.”This statement does a good job of capturing
the "spirit" of the word wilderness.
True wilderness areas are very special, and
should remain special. More than 50% of the designated Wilderness areas (well
over 57 million acres) are in Alaska, where the areas are roadless, remote and truly wild.
The Original Wilderness
The word "Wilderness",
in the context of Federal legislation, carries a strict legal definition and
implications that must be clearly understood to make an informed decision. The Federal
definition of Wilderness, as specified in the
Wilderness Act of 1964, is one of the most restrictive land use
THERE ARE ALREADY NEARLY
MILLION ACRES OF LAND IN
FEDERALLY DESIGNATED WILDERNESS AREASIN THE U.S.
THE EXISTING WILDERNESS AREAS IN THE U.S.
ARE A MILLION ACRES LARGER THAN THE
STATES OF CALIFORNIA, MARYLAND AND DELAWARE COMBINED
THE ACREAGE OF FEDERAL WILDERNESS IS LARGER
THAN EVERY STATE IN THE UNION EXCEPT TEXAS AND ALASKA
Designation, BY LAW, Requires:
restrictions on Federal Wilderness must be understood and raise many serious issues that must be exposed to the community for consideration.
NOmotorized or mechanized equipment
of mechanized transport (bicycles, etc.)
NOpermanent improvements or structures
NOpermanent roads and no temporary roads
NOappropriation of funding
Wilderness advocates have publicly stated that a federal wilderness designation
provides additional funding resources. However, that would be ILLEGAL.
The Wilderness Act of
1964 expressly prohibits additional appropriations.
2. (b) of the Wilderness Act of 1964 states: "No appropriation
shall be available for the payment of expenses or salaries for the
administration of the National Wilderness Preservation System as a separate
unit nor shall any appropriations be available for additional personnel
stated as being required solely for the purpose of managing or administering
areas solely because they are included within the National Wilderness
Wilderness Designation has SERIOUS COMMUNITY RAMIFICATIONS:
designation has serious impacts on any area:
LOSS OF MOTORIZED ACCESS in the areas for ALL
segments of the public
LAW ENFORCEMENT, border security and National
Security - loss of ability for motorized patrol and severely limited pursuit
ability creates a refuge for criminals and illegal activity
Restraints and limitations on
FLOOD CONTROL, water capture, water
management projects and structures
Reasonable and beneficial
GROWTH opportunities through Federal land disposal are eliminated
VISITS TO PROTECTED AREAS DECLINING
are already experiencing a DECLINE in visitors. A November 2008 article
in the Oregon News reported on the issue: " National
Forests See Fewer Visitors" - "Total forest
visits dropped from 204.8 million in 2004 to 178.6million in 2007, a 13
The question is, "Why the decline?"
Comments on the Oregon News website for this article included the following
perspectives: "Two things that have made me visit the national forests and parks less
are: the seemingly unending volume of new rules, regulations and restrictions
on what I can do and where I can do it; and, the fact that lots of the
national forest trail head parking lots are now meth-head shopping centers
where you are surprised if your vehicle is not broken into." and "We
don't go because our national forests in this state have a bad reputation for
bad people....your car gets broken into if you go hiking/fishing,etc. We just
don't feel safe anymore.".
The Push from
Environmental Groups for MORE Federal Wilderness
original ideal of Federal Wilderness has been increasingly compromised as
environmental special interest groups try to designate
as much acreage as possible as Federal Wilderness under the
Wilderness Act of 1964. These groups
attempt to frighten people into believing that the open space areas will be
quickly consumed with housing and development if a Federal Wilderness
designation is not immediately imposed upon the areas.
forestland acreage has remained stable since 1900. The information provided by many of the environmental and wilderness groups is
often incomplete, misleading, and in some cases quite biased and inaccurate.
They boldly state that a Federal Wilderness designation is the only way to
"protect" the land, viewing federal Wilderness designation as a "one
size fits all" legislative hammer, In fact, there are many other
existing and proven land designations that can be tailored to meet local
expectations and requirements.
This trend has
become all too common across the western states where there are large amounts
of federally owned lands, and now the activists have targeted Dona Ana County.
To attempt to apply a Federal Wilderness designation to areas a few miles from
an urban area and label it Wilderness is offensive to the original intent
and spirit of the Wilderness Act and its founders.
proposal developed and promoted by the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance calls
for roughly 1 of every 3 acres
managed by the BLM in Dona Ana County to be designated as Federal Wilderness,
with even more land targeted in their sights for future designation in what
they claim as their "inventory". While this would preserve our
open space, the severe restrictions of a federal Wilderness designation would
have far-reaching impacts that must be carefully considered.
THE MOVEMENT UNDERWAY TO
RESTRICT OUR PUBLIC LAND UNDER THE GUISE OF "PROTECTING THE LAND"
DOES NOT JUST AFFECT RANCHERS AND FARMERS.
THERE WILL BE FAR REACHING SIGNIFICANT IMPACTS FOR ALL OF
ACCESS AND MANY BENEFICIAL USES OF
WILL BE SUBSTANTIALLY REDUCED
OR COMPLETELY ELIMINATED.
MANY, IF NOT MOST, EXISTING ROADS WILL BE CLOSED.
What Is Behind The Push
For More Federal Wilderness? WHO Is Behind It?
It would be easy
to think that once the major "wild" areas in the United States were
designated as federal Wilderness, the efforts of organizations lobbying for
Wilderness designation would be completed. However, that has not proven
to be the case as these organizations push for more areas across the U.S.,
but especially in the western states, for federal Wilderness designation.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., stated: "We are not suffering from a lack of
wilderness areas in the United States. According to the Census Bureau, we have
106 million acres of developed land and 107 million acres of (officially
declared) wilderness land."
Bureau defines "developed land" as land with more than 10 residents
The Census Bureau also indicates that
94.6 Percent of the U.S. is "Rural Open Space".
The 2009 Omnibus
lands bill designated an additional 2 million acres, making the total
wilderness over 109 million acres. With so much Federally designed
Wilderness, why does there continue to be such a strong push for more
Using words like "conservation", "preservation" and "protection", there are
groups and individuals promoting an
agenda which would
restrict the access to our public lands to an elite few. Organizations
like the Wilderness Society and the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance receive
their funding based on their ongoing efforts to obtain legislative federal
Wilderness designation for as much acreage as possible. The
numerous issues surrounding the "Wilderness" and "Rewilding" environmental
movements are quite serious.
Wild Earth magazine, a journal promoting radical environmentalism,
included a manifesto for the extinction of the human race, written under the
pseudonym "Les U. Knight." The article said, "If you haven't given voluntary
human extinction much thought before, the idea of a world with no people in it
may seem strange. But, if you give it a chance, I think you might agree that
the extinction of Homo sapiens would mean survival for millions, if not
billions, of Earth-dwelling species. . . . Phasing out the human race will
solve every problem on earth, social and environmental" ("Voluntary Human
Wild Earth, Vol. 1, No. 2, 72).
Mexico Wilderness Alliance
Summer 2007 newsletter had an article on the founding
board members of NMWA. They stated in that article that Mr. Dave
Foreman "provided many, if not most, of the philosophical
underpinnings that guide the work of NMWA."
Mr. Foreman was a founder of NMWA, and was listed on the Board of
Directors through 2005. To
understand these "philosophical underpinnings", it is necessary to look in to
Mr. Foreman and his career as an environmental movement leader. Mr. Foreman
has a long and well documented history.
There is a video
titled "EARTHFIRST! The Politics of Radical
Environmentalism" by Manes. Excerpts of this 1987 documentary appeared
on 60 Minutes. The video is available in 4 parts: " Part
1", " Part
2" and " Part
Featured in the videos are past and present NMWA Board Members Dave Foreman, Nancy Morton (Dave
Foreman's wife), and many other EarthFirst! followers. Mr. Foreman
has publicly stated that
their philosophy and purpose is to "destroy civilization and
technology, and eliminate the need for the word 'wilderness' because
everything will be 'wilderness'".
Ms. Morton states
in the documentary that "monkeywrenching" (sabatoge in the name of
"eco-defense") is "using the tools of the devil against the devil".
Foreman is attributed with
these quotes: “We must make this an insecure and inhospitable place for
capitalists and their projects. We must reclaim the roads and plowed land,
halt dam construction, tear down existing dams, free shackled rivers and
return to wilderness millions of acres of presently settled land.”. and
“My three main goals would be to reduce human population to about 100
million worldwide, destroy the industrial infrastructure and see wilderness,
with it’s full complement of species, returning throughout the world.”
John Davis, a follower and
the editor of the EarthFirst! Journal stated “I suspect that eradicating small pox was wrong.
It played an important part in balancing ecosystems.”
additional quotes from a variety of
these "Environmental Leaders" to attempt to better understand their position and philosophy.
for a chronological look at the background of Dave Foreman and the
The NMWA Connection To
book "Coyotes and Town Dogs" indicates that the current Chair of the Board of
Directors of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance (NMWA), C. Wesley Leonard,
was also heavily involved with Dave Foreman in the inception of EarthFirst!.
Former NMWA Chairman Dr. Robert Howard has also been closely associated with
Mr. Foreman in NMWA and The
Wildlands Project and continues to be involved with Foreman's
Rewilding Institute. NMWA Board Member Todd Schulke also has
ties to EarthFirst!. For some background on the Wildlands Project,
articles by Judy Keeler.
One of Mr.
Foreman's numerous famous statements revealing his view that humanity is a
scourge upon the land is
"We humans have become a disease -- the
Mr. Foreman also states
almost forty years, I’ve supported slowing and then halting human population
would be reasonable to question why EarthFirst! followers, themselves humans,
don't include themselves in these descriptions. In the above videos,
Foreman states that EarthFirst! members are "antibodies
against the Humanpox".
website reflects several relatively recent changes in the individuals serving on their
Directors, one of which is the addition of Nancy Morton to the Board.
Ms. Morton is recognized as a founding member of NMWA. She is also the
wife of Dave Foreman, and is listed on the "Working Group" for
The background and past actions of these groups and individuals provide
information which must be taken into consideration when evaluating their
current positions and proposals.
groups succeed, beneficial
use and enjoyment of our public lands would be severely restricted for most of
the public. Anyone unable to walk or hike into the areas from the
perimeter or the selected "cherry stemmed" roads would no longer have access
to the areas.
are are well funded and well organized, and should not be taken lightly.
In 2007, the Wilderness Society showed net assets of close to $35 million.
Salaries between $140,000 and $175,000 were reported for top staff positions.
The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance reported net revenue of $426,723 for
2007, and $888,506 for
2006 according to public
IRS forms. 2007 total revenue was
Total Revenue for the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance was $1,100,510,
according to the 2008 Form 990.
Mr. Dave Foreman is listed as an Advisor.
UNDERSTANDING THE ENVIRONMENTALIST AGENDA
of wilderness state many reasons for their desire to "protect the
land". Preserving open space for future generations, preserving
the view shed, stopping development, and so on. The question is ...
WHY ARE THE ENVIRONMENTAL INTEREST
SO UNWILLING TO CONSIDER ANY ALTERNATIVES
Scarantino, a former Executive Director of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance
(NMWA) and past Chairman of the Coalition for NM Wilderness, had a blogsite titled " New Mexico
Wilderness". He wrote several posts which provide important
background, perspective and insight into the environmental groups and
individuals involved in the proposed Dona Ana County wilderness areas.
Mr. Scarantino also wrote
letter, stating: "Underlying the
problems with the Dona Ana County wilderness campaign is the fact that the
persons ultimately calling the shots, behind the screen of a
legitimate-seeming coalition and local organizers, hail from the most
radical wing of the environmental movement. They include persons who
founded and participated in EarthFirst, the nation's first eco-terrorist
group. ... That is not the sort of mindset that makes legislation possible,
and helps explain why the wilderness community has produced so little new
wilderness legislation in New Mexico over the past two decades."
IT QUICKLY BECOMES CLEAR THAT SOME ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS HAVE A
MUCH BROADER AGENDA, WHICH IS TO ELIMINATE THE VAST MAJORITY OF THE
PUBLIC FROM THE FEDERAL LANDS --- AND THEY ARE WILLING TO GO TO GREAT LENGTHS
TO ACCOMPLISH THEIR OBJECTIVES.
The 6 part
series " How
Eco-terrorism Works" by Discovery Communications, Inc.
FBI testimony reveals the depth of this problem in the following statements:
recent years, animal rights extremists and eco-terrorists have become the
most active criminal extremist elements in the United States."
eco-terrorist movement has given rise and notoriety to groups such as the
Animal Liberation Front, or ALF, and the Earth Liberation Front, or ELF.
These groups exist to commit serious acts of vandalism, and to harass and
intimidate owners and employees of the business sector."
was a founder of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance (NMWA) and
is also credited as co-founder of the radical environmental group "Earth
to the FBI testimony, "In 1992,
the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) was founded in Brighton, England, by Earth
First! members who refused to abandon criminal acts as a tactic when others
wished to mainstream Earth First!. In 1993, the ELF was listed for the
first time along with the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) in a communique
declaring solidarity in actions between the two groups. This unity continues
today with a crossover of leadership and membership." The FBI
goes on to state "During the
past several years, special interest extremism, as characterized by the
Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), has
emerged as a serious terrorist threat."
the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance has removed Mr. Foreman from their
website, there is most certainly what appears to be a close working
relationship. Mr. Foreman was a featured speaker at the 2006 New Mexico
Wilderness Conference, sponsored by NMWA, on Nov. 11, 2006 in Santa Fe.
A flyer for the event read:"Dave Foreman, Director of The Rewilding
Institute and Founding Father of NMWA, presenting “The Future of Wilderness".
Mexico Wilderness Alliance
Spring 2007 newsletter featured an article by Mr.
Summer 2007 newsletter had an article on the founding
board members of NMWA, and stated that Dave
many, if not most, of the philosophical underpinnings that guide the work of
A quote from an article on the
website sums up the philosophy well with the statement "Humanity is not
seen as a part of nature but an enemy of it."
for more background information on Dave Foreman.
are often concessions that are made to secure support for designating new
Wilderness areas. Local groups and individuals are encouraged to
compromise, with assurances that the concessions they agree to will be
included in the wilderness legislation for the area. What people don't realize is that the Wilderness designation is just a start.
It creates a foothold.
wilderness designation is in place, other groups like "Wilderness
Watch", "Forest Guardians" and others move in to begin their
work of initiating legislation to remove the concessions put in place when
the wilderness designation was established.
organizations are in business to advocate and lobby for Federal Wilderness
designation. Occasionally, they support other land designations, but
their primary focus has consistently been federal Wilderness designation.
requirements for federal Wilderness designation and the management of
designated areas is mandated by federal law, the only point of possible
compromise is the location of the boundaries for the areas.
There is no
opportunity to structure the requirements for the area, or the management of
the area, to meet the specific needs of the community. Clearly, there is
no real opportunity for compromise.
This is one of
the reasons the news throughout states with pending Federal Wilderness
designation reveals so much conflict and controversy that rises from the local
communities who will be impacted.
Community Expectations have been
identified for a particular area, the
logical question that follows should be: "What is the best tool to
appropriately protect and manage these areas and meet the community
nearly everyone in our community agrees that our open spaces should be
protected, there are opposing views on how to best accomplish this worthwhile
WILDERNESS DESIGNATION IS NOT THE ONLY
are numerous administrative and legislative
that can be used to appropriately manage specific resources while protecting
existing property rights, providing reasonable flexibility to land management agencies
and law enforcement agencies, and preserving access to the general public for
recreation and enjoyment.
congressional designation of Wilderness brings with it a very stringent level
of management requirements and restrictions which must be followed by the
agency responsible for managing the land. The public needs to be fully
aware of the numerous consequences of Federal Wilderness designation that
will impact every citizen.
DESPITE THE CLAIMS OF MANY
PROTECTING THE LAND AND NATURAL RESOURCES
REQUIRE A DESIGNATION OF WILDERNESS.
proposed legislation by People for
Preserving Our Western Heritage results in a meaningful balance between
environmental protection, conservation, recreation, community development,
water resource management, law enforcement and respect for private property
UNDERSTAND THE ISSUES & KNOW THE ALTERNATIVES
wilderness ideal that is discussed and promoted can sound very
appealing, but the reality can be quite another matter.
WE ALL CHERISH OUR OPEN
believe that all these issues must be weighed and given serious consideration
and thought. We should carefully evaluate the historical facts from
other areas where wilderness has been designated to better understand these
complex issues. The consequences and ramifications must be clearly
understood before allowing any land in Dona Ana County to be designated
believe that most people in Dona Ana County do support protecting the open
space and the view sheds. Our group supports that as well, because
without open space there can be no ranching. We also believe that most
people have unfortunately been led to believe that a wilderness designation
is THE ONLY way to protect the land.
IT IS ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL
THAT PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THE SERIOUS RAMIFICATIONS OF A WILDERNESS DESIGNATION,
AND THAT WILDERNESS IS NOT THE ONLY MEANS AVAILABLE TO PROTECT OUR
THERE ARE MANY OTHER
ALTERNATIVES AVAILABLE TO US THAT
SHOULD BE GIVEN APPROPRIATE CONSIDERATION.
Learn more about this
proposal, endorsed by respected professionals and supported by a large
Coalition of businesses and
SECURITY & LAW ENFORCEMENT ISSUES
Wilderness designation prohibits motorized vehicles, mechanized equipment, and
structures. This creates a serious handicap for members of the law
enforcement community, resulting in a direct threat to our national security.
Areas with federal land designations have become havens for drug smuggling,
human smuggling and other criminal activity.
For border security news, see the
M3 Report -
Reports derived and translated directly from Mexican and Central American News
Sources by the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers (NAFBPO)
The prohibited use of motorized vehicles impedes efforts for
search & rescue, and places unnecessary burdens on fire fighting
fire fighting forces and search & rescue operations are delayed when
attempting to operate in a designated wilderness area. The constant
threat of litigation from the environmental community creates a very
challenging and difficult environment for these professionals.
Russell, President of the Dona Ana County Sheriff's Posse, writes "There
are two issues that we are immediately concerned about regarding the
designation of Wilderness status in our County. The first is access to
open spaces heretofore unrestricted. The roads and points of access
into the present WSA's designated bounds have become and remain immediate
access for our activities. As such, we believe they are legal
right-of-ways that must be permanently and without qualification left open to
access. Secondly, the Homeland Security demands that are increasing
annually have huge implications especially in the West Portrillo area of the
proposal. If access is closed to the West Potrillo WSA, we believe the
only observers of the closure to mechanized access will be the drug runners
and coyotes that will welcome the presence of a huge chunk of open space
adjacent to the border.".
Ana County Sheriff's Posse position is: "Our organization does not
and cannot support the current scheme of carving out Wilderness in Dona Ana
County for the stated reasons presented and pushed by advocates who knowingly
or unknowingly disregard the qualification of true Wilderness designation
according to our understanding of the Wilderness Act."
fighting challenges in other designated wilderness areas are in the news
almost daily. In many cases, fire prevention activities are completely
prohibited. This results in disastrous fires which kill wildlife,
destroy property and sometimes take human lives.
Aspen Times - " Forest
Service assesses effects of Wilderness on firefighting" - "Turning
Basalt Mountain into Wilderness wouldn't prohibit firefighting there but it
would eliminate opportunities to reduce dead trees and fuels that have built
up for decades, the top official in the White River National Forest said
Wednesday. ... Fire Chief Scott Thompson said that, with all due respect to
the Forest Service, the written rules and the application of rules aren't
always the same. Written rules that appear to provide flexibility can actually
provide an extra hurdle."
Roger Hedgecock, San Diego KOGO radio talk show host interviews Zack
Taylor, retired Border Patrol officer, on the proposed Tumacacori Highlands
Wilderness designation (HR 3287 & 2593) and how it would affect fire fighting
efforts and hamper the Border Patrol efforts to stop drug smuggling, human
smuggling, and terrorist smuggling on our borders.
Fire Fighting Along the Border
(Part 3 has the most information related to illegal immigration impacts)
The "hands off" approach to wilderness area
management and prohibition of motorized vehicles is a very dangerous
combination, with serious impacts.
WATER MANAGEMENT & FLOOD
Managing the water resources in the arid Southwest is a
significant concern for all residents of this area. Federal Wilderness
designation restricts construction of any structures, including dams and water
holding facilities. Prohibition of mechanizes and motorized equipment
will hamper maintenance of existing dams in the designated Wilderness.
Managing growth and development is an important issue, but it
should not be a factor for designating wilderness areas.
groups and individuals who support congressional wilderness designation of
public lands bring up the issue of land disposal and development of Federal
lands. They state that a wilderness designation will block all future
development, thus "protecting" the land, and imply that a
wilderness designation is the ONLY way to protect land from disposal and development.
important reality that must be understood is that any vibrant, prospering
community must have room for growth. Because less than 10% of Dona Ana
County is privately owned, growth for our community is a complicated issue.
Without gradual and managed release of designated Federal lands for disposal
and sale into private ownership for development, the pressure to sell farm and
private ranch lands becomes significant. We have already seen many
historic farms in our community sold and subdivided for housing or commercial
development. Unless we take steps to protect the farm and ranch lands
that remain, they may also disappear. Releasing small amounts of the
Federal land into the private sector is necessary for beneficial growth of our
A wilderness designation limits access and decreases (and in
some cases eliminates) recreational opportunities.
photos above show some of the signs that are CURRENTLY POSTED in areas
of the Organ Mountains (Aguirre Springs and Dripping Springs). A
Federal designation of Wilderness is EVEN MORE RESTRICTIVE than the
current land use designations already in place!
unveiling a proposed trail system for the Black Hills, Forest Service
Tom Willems stated "We're
going to tell you where you go, when you can go there and what equipment will
be allowed". This statement clearly demonstrates their
attitude toward the public users of the Federal lands.
prohibition on all motorized and mechanized vehicles substantially restricts
access for recreationalists and sportsmen. This restriction includes motorized
wheelchairs, which raises concerns about conflicts with the Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA). Mountain Biking is prohibited. Hunters
have great difficulty removing game, since motorized vehicles and some deer carts
are prohibited. Even horseback riding is vulnerable, with the instances
of trail closure to horseback access in wilderness areas increasing at an
alarming rate and increasing animosity towards stock animals on Federal lands
from some organizations.
Coalition is one organization which promotes preserving our natural
resources for the public's use and enjoyment. Advocates for Access to
Public Lands is a another group working to preserve Multiple Use Lands and
preserve access to trails. For more information about this group, see
their website. They are also sponsoring a
to stop further inappropriate Wilderness Designation.
The severe restrictions imposed on wilderness areas result in
land that is accessible to only the most athletic and fit hikers, and the
majority of the public is no longer able to enjoy their recreational pursuits on
the pubic land.
Most of us are
located here in southern New Mexico because of it's surroundings and because
of our love and respect for the true Western
Heritage that is part of the history and culture of Dona Ana County.
This is our home, and many of us have several generations of family history
in this area.
cherish the beautiful open space that is so abundant in our county. We
believe we should ALL be able to enjoy the beautiful areas that surround us
in a responsible manner.
exists in the southwest only because of the historic preservation of open
space. Without open space, ranching disappears. Displace the
rancher, and open space will be gone.
stewardship of the land has contributed to our beautiful rangelands we enjoy today. The
rangelands are the lifeblood of the rancher.
A group of ranchers and
other concerned citizens formed the group PEOPLE FOR PRESERVING OUR WESTERN HERITAGE
in late 2006, in response to proposed designation of Federal Wilderness for
lands in Dona Ana County, New Mexico.
One of our areas of focus is to inform the public of the serious issues and community impacts related
to the Federal designation of Wilderness.
Initially, our concerns were focused primarily on the devastating impacts to
ranching and agriculture that history has shown after Federal Wilderness
designation in other areas.
You can read an article on the history of one ranching family that was faced
with federal Wilderness designation: " The
Gila Wilderness and a Ranch Family History".
However, we soon began to see that there were serious consequences that
reached far beyond the ranching and agricultural community.
protect these areas and maintain the character of the history the area
represents. Man is an important
part of that history, and should not be banned from its future.
GRAZING & LAND STEWARDSHIP
Wilderness restrictions create substantial hardships for
ranchers, often resulting in the loss of economic viability for the
designation causes management agencies to prioritize the management plan for
an area differently than when the area is in the multiple-use designation.
Areas designated wilderness must,
by law, be managed with priority given to the "wilderness characteristics and
Wilderness Act of 1964, Section 4 (b), lists the only allowed uses for
designated Wilderness areas as "recreation, scenic, scientific,
educational, conservation, and historical use." Grazing is not
(d) addresses Special Provisions, which has the following language:
grazing of livestock, where established prior to September 3, 1964, shall be
permitted to continue, subject to such reasonable regulations as are deemed
necessary by the Secretary of Agriculture."
it was the intent of the authors of the Act to protect grazing and ranchers.
Grazing is allowed, or more accurately "tolerated", as a special
provision with great latitude given to the administrating agency.
original grazing provisions revealed weaknesses and issues surfaced, Congress
responded in 1980 in the Colorado Wilderness Act by reaffirming that the
grazing of cattle was allowed where it existed prior to the Wilderness Act of
1964. Further, the Forest Service was instructed to update its Grazing
Guidelines within its operating manual to assure that wilderness areas would
not be de-stocked by any future interpretations of the Wilderness Act by
Forest Service officials. However, these Congressional "Grazing
Guidelines" are in the report language and are not part of the law.
history has shown that these measures have failed to provide a reasonable
level of protection for the ranching industry, resulting in many ranching
families losing their business, their livelihood and their heritage.
ELIMINATION OF RANCHING OPERATIONS
The Gila, with its designated wilderness areas, is a classic example. The
Gila Wilderness and the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Area are separate areas.
In 1964, Congress officially designated the 588,014 acre Gila Wilderness,
within the 3.3 million acre Gila National Forest, as Federal Wilderness.
In 1970, the 202,016 acre Aldo Leopold Wilderness Area and the 29,304 acre
Blue Range Wilderness Area were added to the designated wilderness within the
Gila. The Aldo Leopold Wilderness was created from the Mimbres and Black
Range Primitive Areas, which were named "primitive areas" in 1924 when
Congress unofficially declared the Gila Wilderness Area. The Blue Range
Wilderness was extended from the Arizona Blue Range Primitive Area along the
New Mexico/Arizona line south of Reserve, New Mexico. The managing
agency is the U.S. Forest Service.
The NMSU Range
Improvement Task Force (RITF) studied these areas in the Gila. Dr. John
Fowler presented their findings in 2000. The study showed an 86.7%
decrease in cattle grazing in the Gila National Forest, including the
designated Wilderness areas.
The RITF study
evaluated numerous factors (cattle prices, precipitation, etc.) that could
have contributed to this staggering reduction in grazing. Their
conclusion was that the U.S. Forest Service
administrative policy, notwithstanding the Congressional actions of 1980, was
the single greatest factor in the decrease of livestock numbers in the area.
A website for the " Forest
Service Employees for Environmental Ethics", in their "FSEEE Appeals"
section, has an article under the heading "Stop
Destructive Grazing and Preserve Species on National Forests".
The article opens with "Cattle grazing accounts for the most widespread
abuse of public land in the American West..."
AT A TIME..."
The BLM also
recognized the reality of the methodical administrative elimination of
grazing. At a City of Las Cruces meeting, Mr. Ed Roberson, Las Cruces
BLM District Manager at the time, publicly stated
"The ranchers are afraid of being 'eaten' one bite at a time".
administrative and policy decisions can be applied to systematically add
increasing burdens, and cost, to daily operational activities. Because
of the low margins of profit in the ranching industry, these added burdens can
quickly bring an operation to the point where economic viability can not be
maintained. The value of the allotment and the ranch as a whole
evaporates, and the rancher is forced out of business with no compensation for
Additionally, it is important to note that the grazing guidelines were developed
and written for areas with natural
sources of water, and areas where grazing is seasonal, with ranchers bringing
cattle to the areas in the spring, and removing them in the fall.
Many of these areas have natural boundaries which provide natural "fences",
eliminating the need for access for fence repair and maintenance. Principally, the Congressional Grazing Guidelines apply to seasonal grazing
allotments. They were not designed to address the requirements necessary
for year-round grazing in the arid desert regions of southern New Mexico and
the Southwest. And finally, these Grazing Guidelines are in the report
language, and not part of the law.
Dona Ana County, ranchers have year-round grazing allotments. There are
no permanent streams in any of the areas proposed for Federal Wilderness
designation. The arid conditions of the desert region require
construction and virtually daily maintenance of wells and dirt tanks to manage
TO THE 19TH CENTURY
in a Wilderness area are highly controlled and regulated. The
prohibition on motorized vehicles is significant, since there is daily need
for the use of motorized vehicles on ranches in our county to maintain viable
ranching operations. Many routine ranching activities require
individual advance written authorization each time they occur, followed by a
comment period for "interested parties". Administrative
burdens and impediments have caused many ranchers attempting to operate in
wilderness areas to go out of business.
4 (c) of the Wilderness Act clearly prohibits permanent and temporary roads
and motorized vehicles, among other uses. Many areas in Dona Ana County
contain numerous roads which are used regularly by the ranchers, sportsmen,
recreationalists and others. The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance assures
everyone they will get those roads "cherry stemmed", a mapping
technique which carves the roads out of the designated wilderness area on
paper. However, since federal Wilderness designation is a legislative
act of Congress, NMWA does not have the ability or the authority to create
prohibition on motorized vehicles is significant, since there is daily need
for the use of motorized vehicles on ranches in our county to maintain viable
The reality is that grazing is technically "allowed" in
designated Wilderness areas, but ONLY if the rancher is content with and able
to operate using the methods of the 19th century. This can be better
understood by contemplating the response of any business owner today being
asked to operate without the use of telephones, fax machines and computers.
While in some cases it may be possible, it is neither practical or realistic.
ranching community is deeply concerned about the proposed wilderness
designations and the consequences this designation would have for ranching
and ranchers. View a
short video clip of an
impromptu interview by Erik Ness, New Mexico Farm Bureau and Jodi Denning,
People for Preserving Our Western Heritage.
STEWARDSHIP OPPORTUNITIES AND PROPERTY RIGHTS
professional range scientists believe that active range management, sometimes
with intervention techniques such as mechanical or herbicide brush control, is
essential to avoid desertification of this environment, with or without
ranchers also have serious concerns about the impact to their operations and
damage to the value of their property and loss of
property rights. Mr. Mark Hillman,
former Colorado state Senator, eloquently stated "When a mere
majority, which has no investment of time or labor nor any legitimate stake in
your property, can seize it for their own purposes or regulate it into
financial ruin, property ownership has become a privilege, not a
right." in a Denver Post
article titled " Property rights become privileges".
recognize that not all members of the environmental community and not all
environmental organizations are opposed to ranchers and grazing. Some
groups do recognize the beneficial relationship between ranching and
conservation, and understand the numerous
of ranching, both to the land and to the wildlife. View some great
wildlife photos taken by a camera
stationed near a rancher's drinker. However, we also must acknowledge
that many groups and individuals in the environmental community DO actively
support policies which call for the reduction or even the complete
elimination of grazing.
A wilderness designation and the accompanying restrictions will
eliminate most, if not all, beneficial land management practices.
at the Jornada Experimental Range, New Mexico State University and other
locations has shown that active management practices are required to return
an area to its historic vegetative conditions. The majority of these
management practices would be prohibited by the restrictions places on
management of wilderness areas.
Bob Alexander, Certified Professional in
Rangeland Management and retired BLM Rangeland Management Specialist, states "It
is now recognized by rangeland ecological science that rangelands often go
through thresholds and they will not return to the historic vegetation
conditions without significant physical management actions." and
"Keeping areas that do not have the historic vegetation out of
designated Wilderness and Wilderness Study Area status is necessary because
it is likely that applying the required herbicides and mechanical practices
will not be allowed in areas designated as Wilderness or Wilderness Study
Areas. Thus, the areas that are not in the historic vegetation condition
would be doomed to remain without historic vegetation if put under Wilderness
or Wilderness Study Area designation".
limitations placed on the activities allowed in areas designated as
wilderness apply to ALL activities, including positive and beneficial
conservation efforts for land and wildlife. Wilderness restrictions and
limitations impose a "hands-off" philosophy on stewardship,
effectively eliminating beneficial conservation efforts. Activities
which help maintain rangeland health and assist wildlife are obstructed, or
at best made much more difficult and costly.
Arizona Sportsmen's Alliance member Larry Audsley stated in a recent
Daily Star article "Only careless thinking or lack of
familiarity with existing Forest Service policies could allow anyone to
believe a wilderness designation is really about preventing urban sprawl,
all-terrain vehicle abuse, power lines, development of National Forest lands
or proliferation of forest roads. These issues can be better addressed
through other means that would yield fewer unintended
consequences.". He also states that "Wildlife
advocates should be especially concerned that lands managed under a
wilderness designation give priority to the human wilderness experience above
the needs of wildlife."
Arizona Game & Fish Department wrote a document titled "Historical
Perspective of Wildlife Management in Wilderness", which was
intended to show the difficulty in managing wildlife in areas that have
special designations, such as wilderness, monuments, etc. The
"The Arizona Game and Fish Department has experienced restrictions
resulting from Special Land Designations including project delays, increased
costs, increased man-hours, etc. This ultimately leads to decreased
efficiency in protecting and managing Arizona's wildlife resources. ... From
a project planning standpoint, it is extremely difficult to second-guess a
particular reaction to implementing a study, developing or maintaining a
wildlife project or requesting permission for emergency access to a
Laws specifically intended to restrict human activity result in
a legally mandated neglect of the area.