New Mexico Sportsmen Give Thanks for Senator Bingaman
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - As New Mexicans appreciated their many blessings this holiday season, people who love the land offered more than a passing nod to Sen. Jeff Bingaman. Retiring after three decades in the U.S. Senate, Bingaman is leaving a legacy you can see as you travel the state by air, land or water.
New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall says he will miss his friend and mentor.
"For three decades in the Senate, he has really made a difference for New Mexicans and for the American people. One of the areas has been conservation. As he's going out of office, he's pushing for three national monuments that we've been working on for a long time, and I hope we can get those done to secure them for his legacy."
Those monuments include Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks. Bingaman helped protect more than 30 mountains, canyons and wilderness areas, including Valles Caldera, El Malpais and the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River. He also championed landmark conservation legislation including the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Toner Mitchell, who once served on the senator's staff and is president of Trout Unlimited in Truchas, says he appreciates Bingaman's interest in preservation issues even as the senator was instrumental in formulating national energy policy.
"He's working both with oil and gas and with conservation groups and managing to navigate both areas really well. I appreciated his optimism that things could be worked out."
Kent Salazar, board member of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, says the humble senator seldom encourages others to laud his praises, but has left an inheritance to those in the Land of Enchantment.
"There's just something about being in the wilderness, or getting to the mountains, or going to a national park or preserve, that adds a critical element to our busy lives, now that we're so urbanized. I want to thank him for thinking about that in doing all this."
Panoramas of some of the places Bingaman helped protect, plus interviews, are in a video produced for New Mexico Sportsmen by Tight Line Media. It can be seen at www.publicnewsservice.org or at www.nmwildlife.org.