May 31, 2006
Brian O’Donnell, 970-903-0276
Bill Schudlich, 505-470-4878
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
SANTA FE — Trout Unlimited today applauded Gov. Bill Richardson’s petition to the Secretary of Agriculture that seeks protection for all of New Mexico’s remaining national forest roadless lands, noting the significance of the request to the state’s sportsmen.
“This is really great news for New Mexico’s anglers and hunters,” said Bill Schudlich, president of the New Mexico Council of Trout Unlimited. “By asking that these lands be set aside and protected for their fish and wildlife resources, Gov. Richardson is ensuring that the state’s last, best fishing and hunting destinations remain just like they are now. As a fisherman and an outdoorsman, I can’t imagine a more important request.”
In addition to requesting that all of New Mexico’s 1.6 million acres of inventoried roadless lands be protected from further development, Richardson is also seeking protection for the roadless portions of the state’s Valle Vidal area. The Valle Vidal, located in the northern part of the state in Taos and Colfax counties, contains thousands of acres of roadless land that wasn’t included in previous Forest Service roadless inventories because it was held by a private corporation at the time. The land was deeded to the Forest Service by the Pennzoil Corp. in 1982 as a gift to the people of the United States.
“That is especially important,” said Kevin Reilly, a member of the New Mexico TU Council. “The Valle Vidal is home to some of the last, best Rio Grande cutthroat trout populations left in the world, and it is home to the state’s healthiest elk herd and the state’s famous once-in-a-lifetime elk hunt. By including the Valle Vidal in his petition, Gov. Richardson is recognizing the value of undeveloped, untrashed land to New Mexico’s sportsmen.”
On the whole, New Mexico’s roadless lands shelter the state’s healthiest big-game herds, in addition to important populations of wild and native trout, like the Valle Vidal’s Rio Grande cutthroats and the native Gila trout in state’s southern reaches. Without untracked, roadless land, many of New Mexico’s wildlife treasures would be in serious peril.
“This gives anglers and hunters new hope in New Mexico,” Schudlich said. “To keep things like they are now in our roadless backcountry is a reasonable request, and one that will make it possible for future generations of hunters and anglers to enjoy the same opportunities we enjoy today.”