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Sabinoso Wilderness Bill: It’s ‘Sabin-Oh-So Worth Protecting’

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November 13, 2007

Las Vegas, NM – It's 'been-oh-so' perfect for so long, and it should stay that way. That's the aim of a bill in Congress to protect the Sabinoso Wilderness, northeast of Las Vegas. The U.S. House Public Lands Subcommittee considers a plan to designate 20,000 additional acres of the area as federally protected wilderness this week.

The Sabinoso is best known for the dramatic Canon Largo along the Canadian River. Jim O'Donnell, of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance says the landscape also should be preserved as one of the area's best economic assets.

"The people of Las Vegas, the San Miguel County Commission and the economic development folks in San Miguel look at this as an economic development tool. So there'’s a lot of support for it –- actually, there isn't any opposition."

He says the bill, HR 2632, would protect public land that is home to the red-tailed hawk, coyote, mountain lion, gray fox, and other wildlife. O'Donnell feels the lesson learned from the successful fight to protect the Valle Vidal was to be proactive, by preserving important wilderness areas in New Mexico before they're threatened.

"What we want to do now is look at the state, decide which areas are very important to be protected, and protect them proactively, so that we're not on the defensive sometime in the future."

The bill, which was introduced this summer by Representative Tom Udall, will be heard by the Congressional subcommittee as part of a handful of wilderness-related legislation.

Eric Mack, Public News Service - NM