In the final days of the 2017 Legislative Session, 29 legislators, including the chair of the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the chair of the Senate Conservation Committee, signed a letter to Bureau of Land Management state director Amy Lueders calling for a “balanced plan” for protecting Otero Mesa as part of the Tri-County Resource Management Plan.
“This letter shows that New Mexicans—from the Tri-County Area and all around the state—care about Otero Mesa and want to see this naturally and culturally significant landscape protected,” said Sen. William Soules, D-Doña Ana, one of the signers of the letter.
The legislators, who represent 15 counties across the state, further underscored the importance of outdoor recreation on the state and local economy.
“Creating jobs in New Mexico is our top priority,” said Rep. Bill McCamley, D-Doña Ana, “and outdoor recreation is a proven economic generator. With outdoor recreation generating $458 million in state and local taxes and $6.1 billion in over consumer spending, protecting Otero Mesa isn’t just good for the environment, it’s good for business.”
Otero Mesa, which contains the largest and wildest Chihuahuan Desert grassland in the United States, is almost entirely managed by the BLM. The agency is currently revising the Tri-County RMP, the long-term plan that governs the kinds of activities and development that will be permitted on Otero Mesa.
“This is a critical time for Otero Mesa,” said Judy Calman, Staff Attorney of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, which helped coordinate the letter among legislators. “As the Bureau of Land Management considers the future of Otero Mesa, it is crucial that community voices are heard. The 29 legislators who signed this letter are speaking very clearly on behalf of their constituents that a balanced plan to protect Otero Mesa is the best way forward.”