A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE WILDERNESS PROPOSAL
like the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance (NMWA), The Wilderness Society and
other similar groups promote legislation to designate as much Federal land as
Federal Wilderness as possible. Federal Wilderness designation is their
singular focus and the sole purpose. These well funded, environmental activist
groups have targeted numerous areas throughout the western states, including
Dona Ana County.
MEXICO WILDERNESS ALLIANCE
any sense out of the issues surrounding the Dona Ana County Wilderness
proposals, it is necessary to understand the background and philosophy of
The New 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."
mentioned above, Mr. Foreman
has a long and well documented history in the environmental movement,
including authoring books on sabotage techniques in the name of "environmental
defense" and an FBI arrest record. For more
information, see our
Understanding the Agenda and our
groups that follow Mr. Foreman's philosophy pursue and promote legislative
land designations to restrict or eliminate access to the areas in an effort to
"remove human impact" from the land.
2006, the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance promoted resolutions to several
governmental entities in Dona Ana County proposing federal wilderness
designation for 422,138 acres in Dona Ana County, and a National Conservation
Area of 108,000 acres for Organ Mountains area. Assurances were given
to the governmental entities that the proposals would not affect existing
ranching operations and that they had the support of the ranching community,
and yet no input from ranchers within the affected areas was solicited.
The ranchers were completely unaware of the NMWA proposal and resulting
resolutions until much later in 2006.
supporting Wilderness designations were adopted by the Dona Ana County Commission, Las Cruces City
Council, Sunland Park City Council, Village of Hatch Council, and Mesilla
Town Council, solely on the information provided by the wilderness activists
and without notice or input from the ranching community or any others with a
Wilderness proponents have frequently cited these resolutions as evidence of
"support" for their proposal. See our "Ranchers Concerns"
page for more information on the Dona Ana County events.
COMMUNITY CONSENSUS REACHED
Senator Domenici's request, the City of Las Cruces initiated a workgroup
process, termed "Regional Land Management Community Response",
intended to build community consensus. Sixteen individuals, termed
"stakeholders", were identified to participate in the workgroup
meetings. Tom Mobley and Tom Cooper served as stakeholder
representatives from the ranching community. A series of meetings were
held, but consensus across stakeholder representatives was not reached.
The conclusion of the final report from this process stated:
range of suggestions made by the stakeholder groups in their Position Papers
illustrates the diversity of our community and the need for careful
consideration of the potential impact on all users of public lands as
legislation is drafted and decisions are made."
workgroup process was terminated, but it did serve to provide an education
for those involved. The more people learned about the restrictions
imposed on Federal Wilderness areas, the more concerned they became.
Review of current wilderness management history and resulting issues only
served to reinforce and magnify those identified concerns.
UNANIMOUSLY RESCINDS RESOLUTION
On August 16, 2007, The Board of
Trustees of the Village of Hatch unanimously voted to rescind the
Village of Hatch Resolution No. 669, which supported the NMWA
letter from Mayor Judd L. Nordyke,
he states "In the past weeks, the Board of Trustees has learned that
the information they had at the time the resolution was adopted did not give
them all they needed to make an informed decision." And from
the Meeting Minutes, from Trustee Sment: "What they presented to us
at that time has proven to be only half true and there has since been plenty
of opposition to supporting their request. He feels it is in the best
interest of the Village Trustees to rescind Resolution No. 669 which was
passed at that time."