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PNS Daily Newscast - April 20, 2018 


The DOJ delivers the Comey memos to Congress. Also on our rundown: More evidence that rent prices are out of reach in many markets; Wisconsin counties brace for sulfide mining; and the Earth Day focus this weekend in North Dakota is on recycling.

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"Monumental" Anniversary Marks a Win for NM Public Lands

Businesses in the towns near Rio Grande Del Norte say its national monument designation has meant more visitors and allowed them to create local jobs. (Creative Commons/Flickr)
Businesses in the towns near Rio Grande Del Norte say its national monument designation has meant more visitors and allowed them to create local jobs. (Creative Commons/Flickr)
March 22, 2017

TAOS, N.M. – The national monument status of Rio Grande Del Norte is being celebrated this week by those working to keep public lands open and accessible in New Mexico. At a time when privatization of public lands is a major issue, nearly a quarter-million acres, 28 miles north of Taos, is open to everyone today.

The Bureau of Land Management reports the monument has seen 45 percent higher public visitation in the last two years than the two years before it was designated.

Mark Casias is an outfitter and hunting guide whose family has lived in the area for several generations.

"It's just a big part of our life, it's a way of life out here," Casias said. "And it's pretty fortunate that you could actually make a living with no big industry. It's just something that is very special to the people over here."

Sen. Tom Udall will speak at an event in Taos on Saturday in recognition of the four years Rio Grand Del Norte has been a national monument. He'll be joined by sportsmen, ranchers and local business owners, all of whom worked to keep the land public.

However, they point out that the struggle might not be over - as a budget-cutting Congress could opt to sell some public lands at auction, transfer ownership to the states, or open more acreage for mining and drilling.

Casias said he wants the ability to share the land of Rio Grande del Norte with his children the way his father shared it with him.

"It would be devastating to the people of the community if it was ever sold out," he added. "If the federal government turns over the public lands to the state, I think it's going to be a disaster."

In addition to conservation efforts, the national monument has important economic implications. Some local business owners have said the tourism boost has even allowed them to create more local jobs.

Brett McPherson, Public News Service - NM