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New Mexico Joins Other Western States in Conservation Challenge

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Friday, August 27, 2021   

SANTA FE, N.M. -- As Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an executive order to adopt what is known as the "30-by-30" plan promoted by the Biden administration, 30% of New Mexico's land and waters are now set to be protected by 2030.

The order expands outdoor access, preserves natural resources and addresses climate stabilization. It dovetails with President Joe Biden's "America the Beautiful" initiative.

Adrian Angulo, deputy director of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, said the order has broad support, because it addresses environmental needs and outdoor recreation.

"We see this as an opportunity to continue to amplify the voices of hunters and anglers, making sure that public lands are safeguarded not just for ecological beauty, but also for hunting and fishing heritage," Angulo explained.

The governor has directed several state agencies to identify areas for protection. Not everyone is happy about the executive order. New Mexico's Senate Republicans have called it a "land grab" that state residents will not tolerate.

John Cornell, Southwest field manager for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, said without greater conservation, the state could lose big game species that depend on connectivity via migration corridors.

"They don't recognize fences or borders, or boundaries, they just move through these areas for sustainability and viability," Cornell pointed out.

Angulo noted a collared mountain lion named "Squeaks" is proof wildlife need protections the 30-by-30 plan would afford. The two-year-old Squeaks left his home range near Albuquerque in 2020 and began traveling northwest. After skirting a few towns, he made several tries at crossing U.S. Highway 550 before finding a safe underpass.

"You can really tell how Squeaks avoids developed areas, but has now happily taken residence up near Mancos, Colorado, and Mesa Verde," Angulo outlined.

New Mexico follows California and Nevada in formalizing the 30-by-30 conservation goal.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.


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