Sierra Club hires new Public Lands staff to protect the land we love in New Mexico
By Eliza Kretzmann Resilient Habitats organizer
Growing up, I spent hours hiking and playing by the Santa Fe River, building sand castles and exploring among the cottonwoods and blue skies. I have spent a lifetime hiking the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the deserts of Abiquiu and tent rocks. My earliest memories include gathering watercress with my father, watching a mass of monarchs flap their wings in the breeze along the river, and hiking amongst the pine trees of Hyde Park. These early experiences led me to where I am now—working as the new Resilient Habitats organizer with the Sierra Club.
In the coming months, the Sierra Club will mount a strong grassroots campaign with local partners seeking to protect some of New Mexico’s most iconic places. This includes the Organ Mountains and Otero Mesa in the south, Rio Grande del Norte and the Columbine Hondo near Taos, the Cibola National Forest and the San Juan Badlands. Additionally, the Rio Grande Chapter is involved in campaigns for the Valles Caldera, the expansion of the Pecos Wilderness, and Chaco Canyon. These landscapes are unique for their wildlife habitat, water resources, recreation opportunities, wilderness characteristics and historical values.
One campaign I want to highlight now is the Organ Mountains National Monument campaign. The Organ Mountains (and the surrounding desert peaks near Las Cruces) have an estimated 5,000 archaeological sites and are home to a diversity of animals such as golden eagles, Montezuma quail, mountain lions, and rare plants such as the Organ Mountain pincushion cactus. The land also provides crucial wildlife linkages with protected lands to the east and west. Horseback riding, mountain biking, climbing and remote hunting can all be enjoyed throughout the area. The campaign has garnered broad-based support, from sportsmen to Pueblo and Hispanic leaders.
However, this special place and the other areas mentioned are under threat. Mining, oil and gas development, suburban sprawl and climate change jeopardize these special places. The International Panel on Climate Change predicts that the Southwest will grow appreciably drier in the 21st century, and that greater aridity is “already on the doorstep” of the Southwest.
These predictions underscore the urgency of protecting New Mexico’s land for water resources, wildlife habitat, and for healthy landscapes and communities. Now it is more crucial than ever to protect our land and water.
With your help we can protect the land we love in New Mexico. Connect with us so we can tell you about opportunities that need your voice! Call us and tell us about your favorite places, take action to protect our public lands, host a house party, or help us lead an outing to the unique places we are trying to protect.