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Formerly People For Preserving Our Western Heritage (PFPOWH)

Protect our ORGAN MOUNTAINS...

But KEEP OUR PUBLIC LANDS OPEN!


The Western Heritage Alliance

supports protecting the Organ Mountains
and their historical and cultural sites. 
We also stand for doing so in a reasonable manner,
with full and open public debate.

 

 

WESTERN HERITAGE ALLIANCE (W.H.A.)

OUR MISSION:  TO PRESERVE, PROMOTE AND PROTECT THE FARMING, RANCHING, AND RURAL HERITAGE OF OUR WESTERN LANDS.

WE SUPPORT A MEANINGFUL BALANCE BETWEEN ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION, CONSERVATION, RECREATION, COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT, WATER RESOURCE MANAGEMENT, LAW ENFORCEMENT AND RESPECT FOR PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS.

WE SUPPORT PERMANENTLY PRESERVING AND PROTECTING THE ORGAN MOUNTAINS, AND THE OTHER SPECIAL AREAS IN OUR COUNTY. 

WE SUPPORT AN HONEST DIALOGUE ON THE ISSUES THAT WOULD LEAD TO VIABLE ALTERNATIVES TO FEDERAL WILDERNESS DESIGNATION THAT CAN BE USED TO PROTECT OUR LAND, OUR NATURAL RESOURCES AND OUR OPEN SPACE.
 

   
 


ACTION NEEDED  2/24/2014

We have developed an online petition for those opposed to a large national monument to make it known to the President, Secretary Jewell and as well as Senators Udall and Heinrich that there is NOT a consensus in favor of  the 500,000 acre national monument.

 You can find the petition at the following link. http://www.change.org/petitions/opposition-of-national-monument-in-dona-ana-county

It is important that you sign the petition and pass the link on to your contacts for their signature

Together, we can stop this major land grab.

 

   
 


UPDATED 4/3/2014

Letter From Western Heritage Association to the President 3/13/2014

Congressman Pearce introduced HR 995 “Organ Mountains National Monument Establishment Act” on March 6, 2013.  We support the bill for the same reasons listed under support for HR 4334.  They are basically the same bill in content and protect livestock grazing and ranching practices, watershed maintenance and flood control access, border security and law enforcement access.  The proposed national monument under HR 995 is for 58,512 acres and would release the wilderness study areas in the Organ Mountains.

 Senators Udall and Heinrich introduced S 1805 “Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Conservation Act” on December 13, 2013.  We are opposed to the bill as written because  the acreage has grown to almost 500,000 acres with 241,067 acres of wilderness designation and 257,748 acres of national monument management.  The total acreage would be called a National Monument and managed under the BLM, but would have 2 very different schemes of management-wilderness and national monument and cause much confusion for ranches, law enforcement, flood control and watershed management.  Both types of management in the bill are based on “protection” and not multiple use that they are currently be managed under.  The bill does not protect grazing, watershed management and flood control or give law enforcement and border patrol the access they need to carry out their missions.

 The reasons for opposing the bill are the same as under S1024 and would put restrictions on access of 22 percent of Dona Ana County in addition to the almost 25 percent of the county already under restricted access.

For a concise history of the issues of the efforts to impose Wilderness designation in Dona Ana County,
read this article by Stephen L. Wilmeth:  The Battle of Dona Ana County 

Letters to the President from Dona Ana County Organizations:
OPPOSING Executive Order for National Monument Designation 
(updated 1/11/13)

National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers
Dona Ana County Sheriff's Department
Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce
Elephant Butte Irrigation District
Dona Ana Soil and Water Conservation District
Hidalgo Soil And Water Conservation District
Council of Border Conservation Districts
New Mexico Coalition of Conservation Districts
Southwestern County Commission Alliance
Dona Ana County Farm and Livestock Bureau
Farm Credit of New Mexico
New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau
Mesilla Valley Sportsmen's Alliance
People for Preserving Our Western Heritage
National Cattlemen's Beef Association & New Mexico Cattle Grower's Association  (4/3/14)
National Association of Conservation Districts (4/5/14)
 

   
 

New 1/25/14:  Statement from Dr. Jerry G. Schickedanz, Chairman of the Western Heritage Alliance at the National Monument Hearing held on 1/24/14 in Las Cruces. 

The hearing on the Pearce Organ Mountains National Monument Bill (H.R. 4334) was held June 28 at 10:00am in Washington.

CONGRESSIONAL HEARING TESTIMONY TRANSCRIPTS:

Congressman Pearce
Dona Ana County Commissioner Garrett

PFPOWH - Dr. Jerry Schikedanz
Carl Rountree, Assistant Director, BLM
Matt Rush, Executive Vice-President, New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau

OTHER SUBMITTED TESTIMONY:

Dona Ana County Sheriff Todd Garrison
National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers
Dona Ana Soil and Water Conservation District
NM Federal Lands Council
Tom Cooper, Dona Ana County Rancher

Mesilla Valley Sportsmen's Alliance

Click here for a summary of the three proposals that are currently being considered.

This legislation is supported by the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers and People for Preserving Our Western Heritage.

Resolutions Opposing Presidential Ordered National Monument Status and Wilderness with NO legislative process:

Hidalgo County Commission
Elephant Butte Irrigation District
Dona Ana Soil & Water Conservation District
Council of Border Conservation Districts
New Mexico Coalition of Conservation Districts
South Central-New Mexico Stormwater Management Coalition
Hispano Chamber of Commerce de Las Cruces

PFPOWH Letter to the President on the National Monument Proposal

This legislation, H.R. 4334, provides the following:

·         Permanently protects the Organ Mountains ACEC

·         Protects many historical and cultural sites

·         Pursues the legislative route for National Monument protection (instead of Presidential Executive Order)

·         Process is open for debate and input

·         Public hearings will be held to identify and discuss the issues

·         Puts in writing what is being protected and preserved

·         Allows for grazing to continue

·         Protects the watershed for continued management for flood control

·         Protects valid water rights

·         Allows for motorized vehicle use to conduct routine ranch operations

·         Protects against new roads, except for emergency use

·         Protects current rights of way, and allows changes if approved through NEPA

·         Leaves in place current protections for other lands in Dona Ana County

·         Protects land within the 58,412 acre boundary from disposal, trade, development, sale, mineral exploration, leasing or mining including geothermal

·         Purposes section of the bill provides legislative protection for conserving, protecting and enhancing the cultural, traditional, archaeological, natural, ecological, geological, historical, wildlife, watershed, educational, recreations, and scenic resources for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations

 

More information on H.R.4334

 THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

 

   
 


Update:  April 20, 2012

On the positive side, Representative Steve Pearce has introduced H.R. 4334, the Organ Mountains National Monument Establishment Act to protect 58,512 acres.  This would protect the footprint of the Organ Mountains and the Sierra Vista trail south to the New Mexico-Texas boundary.  This bill would protect grazing, water rights, rights of way, watershed management, motorized use on designated trails and other items.  This bill will have public hearings and is open for debate.

On the negative side, the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance supporters have unveiled a proposed Organ Mountain-Desert Peaks National Monument which would lockup 600,000 acres.  They are pushing President Obama to sign an Executive Order to designate the 600,000 acres, approximately 25% of Dona Ana County, as a National Monument.  This document is not out for the public to review, and therefore we have no idea of its impact on grazing, hunting, horseback riding, biking, camping, law enforcement or border security.  It is not clear who would manage the land:  National Park Service to the Bureau of Land Management.

Some facts about National Monuments (NMs) in New Mexico:

  • New Mexico National Monuments:  Aztec Ruins, Capulin Volcano, El Morro, Gila Cliff Dwellings, Petroglyphs, Salinas Pueblo, Bandelier, El Maplais, Fort Union, Tent Rocks, Prehistoric Trackways, White Sands

  • There are 12 National Monuments in New Mexico; 11 have management plans

  • 10 are managed by the National Park Service, 2 are managed by the BLM

  • No HUNTING is allowed in 11 of the 12 NMs

  • HUNTING is discouraged in order to protect native wildlife

  • No GRAZING is allowed in 11 of the 12 NMs

  • NPS policy is to eliminate commercial grazing by "non-native species"

  • No OVERNIGHT RV CAMPING is allowed in 10 of the 12 NMs

  • No OVERNIGHT BACKPACK CAMPING is allowed in 9 of the 12 NMs

  • No MOTORIZED VEHICLE USE allowed on trails per NPS policy to limit unnatural sounds

  • HORSEBACK RIDING in Bandelier NM is limited to 2 groups of 6 horses daily

  • No FUEL WOOD GATHERING

  • LAW ENFORCEMENT RESTRICTIONS:  NPS policy states that "within the National Park System boundaries, the Service will fulfill its law enforcement responsibilities using NPS employees"

  • FEES are charged in 9 of the 12 NMs  (NM currently have free of charge access)

  • NPS policy for PETS (except guide dogs) are prohibited from entering National Monument buildings, visitor centers, ranger led activities, using trails and all back country areas per NPS policy.  Where allowed on trails, pets must be on 6 ft. leashes at all times.

These are just SOME of our concerns with the NMWA proposed 600,000 acre lockup.

  W.H.A. supports Representative Pearce's H.R. 4334  
National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers Supports Organ Mountains National Monument Establishment Act

  • Permanently protects the Organ Mountains ACEC

  • Protects many historical and cultural sites

  • Pursues the legislative route for National Monument protection

  • Process is open for debate and input

  • Public hearings will be held to identify and discuss the issues

  • Puts in writing what is being protected and preserved

  • Allows for grazing to continue

  • Protects the watershed for continued management for flood control

  • Protects valid water rights

  • Allows for motorized vehicle use to conduct routine ranch operations

  • Protects against new roads, except for emergency use

  • Protects current rights of way, and allows changes if approved through NEPA

  • Leaves in place current protections for other lands in Dona Ana County

  • Protects land within the 58,412 acre boundary from disposal, trade, development, sale, mineral exploration, leasing or mining including geothermal

  • Purposes section provides legislative protection for conserving, protecting and enhancing the cultural, traditional, archaeological, natural, ecological, geological, historical, wildlife, watershed, educational, recreations, and scenic resources for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations

  • More information on H.R.4334

HELPFUL RESOURCE:
Download the Mesilla Valley TEA PARTY  tri-fold brochure on Protecting the Organ Mountains
 

   
 


>>>  SEE THE MAPS FOR YOURSELF  <<<

To compare the current proposals:  Click here

Letter from the Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce to the President  (11/3/12)
 

   
 
   
 


THE PROBLEMS WITH WILDERNESS OR NATIONAL MONUMENTS ON THE BORDER

NAFBPO Press Release on Senators Udall and Heinrich's Assault on Border Security

When land is designated as Federal Wilderness under the 1964 Wilderness Act, there are numerous prohibitions, such as:

  • no permanent road within any Wilderness area
  • no temporary road
  • no use of motorized vehicles
  • no mechanized equipment
  • no landing of aircraft
  • no form of mechanical transport
  • no structure or installation

These prohibitions do not allow for Border Patrol or other law enforcement agencies to perform routine patrols in Wilderness.  They can not utilize sensors, radio transmitters or microwave towers for surveillance in designated Wilderness.  The only way for them to travel in the Wilderness is on foot or on horseback, unless it is deemed an emergency.  There is a Memo of Understanding (MOU) between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Interior and U.S. Department of Agriculture that will allow emergency entry, but it has not been tested in New Mexico because there is not any designated Wilderness along the border.

See Wilderness On The Border to learn more about why W.H.A. and others in our community strongly oppose this detrimental legislation, or read the report A Gift to the Drug Cartels: Will New Mexico Become the New Arizona?

CLICK HERE for articles, news, maps and more information on S.1689 - the Organ Mountains Desert Peaks Wilderness Act.

See the News New Mexico coverage on Border issues.

Designating federal Wilderness in proximity to our international border is detrimental to our national security and undermines law enforcement activities.

National Assoc. of Former Border Patrol Officers Letter to Senator Bingaman on S.1024

As of July, 2010, more than 28,000 people have been killed in drug related violence since 2006.  We do not want create a smuggling corridor in our county that will invite this type of criminal violence to move in to our community.  Attacks on the Mexican government and civilians, including journalists, are escalating.

A Gift to the Drug Cartels: Will New Mexico Become the New Arizona?  (CIS Report)

Article:  National Monument or National Security?  added 8/29/12

This section of our home page is just a brief overview.  See our Wilderness On The Border page for a more information on why W.H.A. and others in our community strongly oppose this detrimental legislation.  Also see the News New Mexico coverage on Border issues.

  Fox News: America's Third War Coverage on Border Security

Borderland Beat - Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

QUOTES FROM BORDER PATROL OFFICERS & OTHER OFFICIALS

NAFBPO Press Release on Senators Udall and Heinrich's Assault on Border Security

NAFBPO Border Presentation Video

"The presence of any wilderness on the Mexican border is a danger to the security of the United States."
Jim Switzer, National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers

"...when wilderness designations are in enforcement areas, they can substantially affect the ability to conduct necessary daily operations and limit the construction of infrastructure."
Commissioner Alan Bersin, U.S. Customs and Border Protection

"Smuggling organizations quickly learn to scout, identify, occupy and utilize unguarded border locations.  To disrupt criminal operations, Border Patrol officers must have COMPLETE access TO ALL AREAS adjacent to the border.  Border Patrol agents must have the flexibility to monitor and have a PHYSICAL PRESENCE to confront illegal activity, regardless of where it occurs along our borders.  Failure to do so gives the perpetrators the upper hand, established routes of safe passage into the U.S., and weakens the first line of defense.  The control of ANY corridor translates into the control of all illegal activity in that corridor.  Border Patrol must have access to ALL trafficking corridors, NO EXCEPTIONS.  Our borders have never been so severely tested.  The United States is at a critical crossroads regarding our sovereignty and national security. Anything that impedes the Border Patrol from actively patrolling corridors automatically enables and enhances criminal activity.  The authority vested in Border Patrol agents must be UNENCUMBERED.  Wilderness designation creates significant impediments for Border Patrol."
Buck Brandemuehl, Chief of U.S. Border Patrol (Retired), Border Security Forum, Las Cruces, May 2010 (large PDF of presentation)

"Today, our National Security and overall Public Safety is under constant threat of assault in the border region between the United States and Mexico.  Daily, the Americans that live in the border states and particularly those that actually live within the border region are in imminent danger due to the amount of the violent crime that is taking place on public lands.  The lawlessness that exists on public lands in the border region is an open invitation to terrorists.  The horrible face of terrorism is seen everywhere along the Mexican Border.  Illegal aliens and drugs are passing through these public lands undetected."
Thomas J. Cronin, Chairman, National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers

"... the criminal activities and violence of the drug trafficking organizations in Mexico is not only an international threat, it is a homeland security issue in which all Americans have a stake. ... ICE recognizes the severity of the violence and illicit activity in Cuidad Juarez."
Alonzo R. Peña, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations.

"Law enforcement work in the National Park Service is the most dangerous in federal service. National Park Service officers are 12 times more likely to be killed or injured as a result of an assault than FBI agents. Overall, NPS law enforcement has a morbidity rate triple that of the next worst federal agency." 
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility

"Obviously, the impact of that policy [*] is severe on our operations," he said. "When you can't drive in those areas, it makes it impossible to patrol and enforce the law, and it transforms it into a sanctuary for illegal aliens."  [*] - "that policy" is referring to federal land management policies such as Wilderness, National Wildlife Refuge, etc. that hinder Border Patrol operations.  (from a Fox News report. July 2010)
T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Council, the union for Border Patrol agents

National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers - letter to Congressmen, Senators

Immigration and Customs Enforcement Vote of No Confidence in ICE Director and Assistant Director

FROM THE FBI

"El Paso, Texas, whose sister city in Mexico - Juarez - has become as deadly as any war zone thanks to the drug cartels."

"The cartels make billion-dollar profits trafficking drugs.  Gaining and controlling border access is critical to their operations.  They maintain that control through bribery, extortion, intimidation, and extreme violence.  Some areas on the Mexican side of the border are so violent they are reminiscent of the gangster era of Chicago in the 1930s or the heyday of the Mafia's Five Families in New York. ... In Juarez, decapitated heads of murdered cartel members have been displayed on fence posts to intimidate rivals."

"The disturbing level of violence sometimes overshadows the national security risks along the border"

"The kidnappings, beatings, and murders that mark the extreme drug-related violence of Mexican border cities such as Tijuana and Juarez have increasingly spilled over the border."

"Thanks to drug money, the cartels have enormous power - and they use it to bribe, intimidate and murder."

See "On The Southwest Border" FBI series.

WESTERN HERITAGE ALLIANCE PRESENTATION - WILDERNESS ON THE BORDER

"Wilderness On The Border" is an audio/visual presentation that outlines information obtained from a National Park Study and a Department of Interior Threat Assessment report about the devastating impacts of designated federal Wilderness on our country's southern border. 

MORE INFORMATION, ARTICLES, QUOTES & GOVERNMENT REPORTS

This section of our home page is just an overview.  See our Wilderness On The Border page for a more complete set of quotes and information on why W.H.A. and others in our community strongly oppose this detrimental legislation.

   
 
VIDEOS - EDUCATIONAL, DOCUMENTARIES, NEWS

WESTERN HERITAGE ALLIANCE VIDEOS

Designing the Perfect Drug Smuggling Corridor
The Inadequacy of a 5 Mile Buffer for Border Security

"TRUTH ON THE BORDER" - FEDERAL LAND MANAGEMENT IMPACTS ON BORDER SECURITY

Fear on the Border in Fort Hancock, TX   New 2/2014
NAFBPO Border Presentation Video NEW 01/2014
The Harsh Realities Along the Mexican Border (Warning - extremely graphic)  NEW 07/24/10
Trash On The Border
The Price Of Admission - Wilderness Rape Trees
Rape Tree Followup - A Look At The Numbers

Border Wilderness - Too Dangerous For The Public
Wilderness Threatens Border Security

Realities of Wilderness on the Border - Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
Realities of Wilderness on the Border - HIDTA Report
Headlines on Federal Lands and our UNSECURE BORDER

DOCUMENTARIES

Southern Exposure: Cartels and Terrorists (4/5/11)
Southern Exposure: Drug Smuggling (4/5/11)

A Day in the Life of an Arizona Rancher: Border Fences, Illegal Aliens and One Man's Watchtower (CIS, 03/09/11)
Hidden Cameras on the Arizona Border 3: A Day in the Life of a Drug Smuggler  (CIS Video 09/29/10)
Gaming the Border: A Report from Cochise County, Arizona (CIS Video 08/13/10)
Hidden Cameras on the Arizona Border 2: Drugs, Guns and 850 Illegal Aliens (CIS Video 07/16/10)
Hidden Cameras on the Arizona Border: Coyotes, Bears, and Trails  (CIS Video  07/16/10)
How The West Was Lost - The Fallacy of Federal Wilderness
 (PFPOWH Video 2010)
Wildlands Project

NEWS VIDEOS & OTHER VIDEOS

Violence on the Border (GBTV Video, 06/01/12)
Holocaust on the Border (GBTV Video, 06/01/12)

Protect Our Organ Mountains But Keep Our Public Lands Open! (Mesilla Valley TEA Party, 04/28/12)
Fire-gate, The Arizona Wildfires (SecureBorderIntel, 06/25/11)
Video - Arizona Wildfires June 2011 (SecureBorderIntel, 06/22/11)
Terrorist Group Setting Up Operations Near U.S. Border (Hizbollah) (YouTube Video, 05/06/11)
One Rancher's Message: 'Control the Border at the Border' (Fox News, 04/19/11)
Arizona Rancher Pushes for Border Security Improvements (Fox News, 04/19/11)

Rep. Bishop's Opening Statement at Congressional Hearing on Border Security (YouTube Video, 04/15/11)
Bishop Questions DOI and USDA Officials About Environmental Policies (YouTube Video, 04/15/11)

Sheriff Babeu Testifies About Border Battle in Washington (Fox Phoenix Video)
41 Killed in Mexican Border City [Juarez]  (Fox News, 04/06/11)

Border Ranchers Fear Threats From Drug Cartels - Video (The Westerner, 03/13/11)
A Day in the Life of an Arizona Rancher: Border Fences, Illegal Aliens and One Man's Watchtower (CIS, 03/09/11)
Stopping Illegals at the Border (Fox News, 02/11/11)
Lawless Town Just Across The Border (Fox News, 02/08/11)
Did Border Agent Die in Vain?  (Fox News Video, 12/23/10)

Border Patrol Agent Killed in Southern Arizona (Fox News, 12/16/10)
Border Patrol Agent Killed in Southern Arizona (Associated Press Video, 12/16/10)

The Worst Spot on the Border (Fox News - Oliver North, 12/15/10)
Hispanos Unidos - Change Course (12/14/10)
Elderly Rancher Versus Mexican Cartel (Fox News, 12/12/10)
Intense Violence on the Border in Deserted Towns (Fox News, 12/02/10)

Terrorists Have Cross US/Mexican Border, Welcome Mat for Another 9/11 (WSB-TV, Atlanta, 11/11/10)
Escalating Drug Violence on the Border (Fox News Video, 9/10/10)
Online with Terry Jeffrey With Sheriff Larry Dever (CNS News, 9/10/10)
Brewer Pledges to Keep Fighting the Feds to Secure AZ Border  (Fox News, 9/7/10)
Terrorist Describing Crossing the Border with Anthrax  (Video, 8/30/10)
Drug Cartel Believed Responsible for Mexico Massacre (Fox News Video, 08/27/10)
Gruesome Discovery in Northern Mexico (Fox News Video, 08/27/10)

Mexican Drug War Escalates (CBS YouTube Video, 08/27/10)
Mexico Massacre Claims 72 Lives (ITN News YouTube Video, 08/27/10)

Escalating Drug Violence on the Border (Fox News video, 08/26/10)
Mexico Violence Crosses the Border?  (Greta van Susteren - Fox News Video, 8/24/10)

See our full archive of all videos for more.

WESTERN HERITAGE ALLIANCE AUDIO/VISUAL PRESENTATIONS

The following short presentations were created by People for Preserving Our Western Heritage.  We hope you will find these presentations informative and helpful in understanding the complex issues related to Federal Wilderness designation.

"Wilderness On The Border"

This presentation presents information obtained from a National Park Study and a Department of Interior Threat Assessment report about the devastating impacts of designated federal Wilderness on our country's southern border. 

View the video commentary from Congressman Bishop (Utah) regarding the information in this NPS and DOI reports.

"What is Wilderness"

This presentation provides an overview of what is involved in a Federal Wilderness designation, separating the "spirit" of wilderness from the reality of the legislative designation of wilderness.   This presentation takes a high level look at the impacts and ramifications that result from Federal Wilderness designation. 
 

"Wilderness... Understanding the Impacts on Ranching"

This presentation goes through a very brief history of ranching, and looks at several of the ways that a Federal Wilderness designation impacts ranching operations, rangeland and wildlife conservation.  This presentation will give the viewer a much better understanding of why the ranching community is so concerned about proposed Federal Wilderness designation for lands that have active grazing allotments and existing ranching operations.

VIDEO ARCHIVE

Full archive of all videos

   
 

   
 

WHAT'S NEW!

See The Westerner blog for daily news updates on federal lands and environmental issues.

Feb 2014 Fear on the Border in Fort Hancock, TX  
 
Jan 2014 Statement from Dr. Jerry G. Schickedanz, Chairman of the Western Heritage Alliance at the National Monument Hearing held on 1/24/14 in Las Cruces. 
NAFBPO Border Presentation Video
NAFBPO Press Release on Senators Udall and Heinrich's Assault on Border Security
Sheriffs Oppose Organ Mountain Monument (The Westerner)
See The Westerner for more on the NM Monument issue
Dec 2013 Jerry G. Schickedanz:  Claims of Monument Supporters Not Backed Up by Existing Evidence (Las Cruces Sun News)
Nov 2013 In Mexico, Violence Leaves At Least 13 Dead in Border City Matamoro
Mexican Drug Cartels Extending Violent Reach Into California
Widow of Murdered Rancher Rob Krentz Blocks Access to Case File
Sept 2013 AZ BorderRanchers: "It's Not Our Country Anymore, We're Living By The Law Of The Cartel" and Border Sheriffs Say D.C. Not Taking Border Seriously
Iran Aggressively Recruiting "Invisible Army" of Latin American Converts to Infiltrate U.S. Through 'Soft Belly' of Southern Border
Assault on NPS Employee Highlights Danger Along U.S. - Mexico Border
Previous Texas - Authorities Probe Lawyer Murder, Drug Cartel Link (The Westerner)
Troops Pour Into Mexican Town Besieged by Drug Violence (The Westerner)
Justice At The Barrel of a Gun: Vigilante Militias in Mexico (The Westerner)
Tale of Mexican Drug Violence Rattles Cannes (The Westerner)
Dying to Come to the USA (The Westerner)
Letter from the Linebery Policy Center for Natural Resource Management on HR 995
Blood Along the Border: Environmental Activism & Violence in Juarez, Mexico (The Westerner)
Los Zetas Cartel is Throwing Parties for Kids (The Westerner)
Racetrack Owner Guilty of Laundering Cartel Drug Money (The Westerner)
Arizona Morgue Prepares for Migrant Deaths (The Westerner)


COMPLETE ARCHIVE OF ALL NEWS ITEMS

For border security news, see the M3 Report - Reports derived and translated directly from Mexican and Central American News Sources by the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers (NAFBPO)

The Westerner blog regularly posts articles related to border security and Wilderness designation.  Here are links to the Westerner posts by relevant tags:

Border
Wilderness NM
Wilderness

SEARCH THIS WEBSITE
 

   
 

BENEFICIAL AND BALANCED STEWARDSHIP OF THE LAND REQUIRES AN ACCURATE UNDERSTANDING OF THE FACTS.

"WILDERNESS" AND "OPEN SPACE"
ARE NOT THE SAME THING!


APPROPRIATE MANAGEMENT OF OUR PUBLIC LANDS CAN ONLY OCCUR WHEN ALL OF THE COMPLEX ISSUES ARE DISCUSSED OPENLY, AND ADDRESSED WITH HONESTY AND INTEGRITY.
 

CHECK OUT WHAT'S NEW

   
 

COMMUNITY EXPECTATIONS

The City of Las Cruces conducted Regional Land Planning meetings in 2006/2007.  Many people had the opportunity to provide their perspectives on the priorities for preservation of the special areas in Dona Ana County.  Click the following link for a brief history of the Dona Ana County Wilderness proposal.  The findings from this effort were documented in the Regional Land Management, A Community Response Findings, April 2007 document. 

Additionally, members of W.H.A. (formerly PFPOWH) met with numerous professionals, groups, organizations, businesses and individuals in and around Dona Ana County.  Based on these meetings and discussions, we prepared the following list of "Community Expectations" for responsible and appropriate management and preservation for the identified Federal lands in our county. 

People for Preserving Our Western Heritage holds these Community Expectations as the standard that must be met for any proposed legislation affecting Federal land protection and management.
 

 

DONA ANA COUNTY COMMUNITY EXPECTATIONS

1.  Permanent retention of open space
2.  Provision for planned economic and population growth
3.  Unrestricted application of Homeland Security and law enforcement activities
4.  Prevention of the unlawful use of motorized vehicles off designated roads
5.  Continued access to the areas for ALL segments of the public
6.  Perpetuation of historic ranching operations
7.  Access for flood control and water capture projects
8.  Enhancement of wildlife and rangeland health
9.  Integrity with respect to historic Wilderness concepts and law
   
   
 


DONA ANA COUNTY PLANNED GROWTH,
OPEN SPACE AND RANGELAND PRESERVATION ACT
----- THE PEOPLE'S PROPOSAL -----

Help us PERMANENTLY PRESERVE these special areas
for the public's ACCESS, ENJOYMENT and BENEFICIAL USE.

Learn more about Rangeland Preservation Areas, endorsed by respected professionals and
supported by a Coalition of
OVER 800 businesses and community organizations.

For additional background information, see our videos.
 

   
 

WHAT IS "WILDERNESS"?  -  AN OVERVIEW OF THE ISSUES

It is in the public interest to retain some lands in Federal ownership, for the benefit of all people.  Aldo Leopold, a key individual in the history of the original Wilderness Act, once wrote: “A wilderness should be big enough to absorb a two-week pack trip without crossing your own tracks.”  This statement does a good job of capturing the "spirit" of the word wilderness. 

True wilderness areas are very special, and should remain special. More than 50% of the designated Wilderness areas (well over 57 million acres) are in Alaska, where the areas are roadless, remote and truly wild.   

The Original Wilderness Act

The word "Wilderness", in the context of Federal legislation, carries a strict legal definition and serious management implications that must be clearly understood to make an informed decision.  The Federal definition of Wilderness, as specified in the Wilderness Act of 1964, is one of the most restrictive land use designations available. 

THERE ARE ALREADY NEARLY 109.5 MILLION ACRES OF LAND IN
756 FEDERALLY DESIGNATED WILDERNESS AREAS
IN THE U.S.

THE EXISTING WILDERNESS AREAS IN THE U.S. ARE A MILLION ACRES LARGER THAN THE STATES OF CALIFORNIA, MARYLAND AND DELAWARE COMBINED

THE ACREAGE OF FEDERAL WILDERNESS IS LARGER THAN EVERY STATE IN THE UNION EXCEPT TEXAS AND ALASKA

Federal Wilderness Designation, BY LAW, Requires:

The restrictions on Federal Wilderness must be understood and raise many serious issues that must be exposed to the community for consideration.

  • NO motorized or mechanized equipment
  • NO forms of mechanized transport (bicycles, etc.)
  • NO permanent improvements or structures
  • NO permanent roads and no temporary roads
  • NO appropriation of funding

Some Wilderness advocates have publicly stated that a federal wilderness designation provides additional funding resources.  However, that would be ILLEGAL.  The Wilderness Act of 1964 expressly prohibits additional appropriations. 

Section 2. (b) of the Wilderness Act of 1964 states: "No appropriation shall be available for the payment of expenses or salaries for the administration of the National Wilderness Preservation System as a separate unit nor shall any appropriations be available for additional personnel stated as being required solely for the purpose of managing or administering areas solely because they are included within the National Wilderness Preservation System."

Federal Wilderness Designation has SERIOUS COMMUNITY RAMIFICATIONS:

Wilderness designation has serious impacts on any area:

  • LOSS OF MOTORIZED ACCESS in the areas for ALL segments of the public

  • LAW ENFORCEMENT, border security and National Security  - loss of ability for motorized patrol and severely limited pursuit ability creates a refuge for criminals and illegal activity

  • Restraints and limitations on FLOOD CONTROL, water capture, water management projects and structures

  • Unrealistic hardships on SEARCH & RESCUE operations

  • Impacts on FIREFIGHTING operations

  • Unrealistic operational hardships on RANCHING & GRAZING in the designated areas

  • Loss of opportunity for pro-active CONSERVATION, STEWARDSHIP & WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT projects

  • Severe limits on RECREATIONAL opportunities

  • Reasonable and beneficial COMMUNITY GROWTH opportunities through Federal land disposal are eliminated

VISITS TO PROTECTED AREAS DECLINING

Existing "protected" areas are already experiencing a DECLINE in visitors.  A November 2008 article in the Oregon News reported on the issue: " National Forests See Fewer Visitors" - "Total forest visits dropped from 204.8 million in 2004 to 178.6million in 2007, a 13 percent decline." 

The question is, "Why the decline?"  Comments on the Oregon News website for this article included the following perspectives:  "Two things that have made me visit the national forests and parks less are: the seemingly unending volume of new rules, regulations and restrictions on what I can do and where I can do it; and, the fact that lots of the national forest trail head parking lots are now meth-head shopping centers where you are surprised if your vehicle is not broken into." and "We don't go because our national forests in this state have a bad reputation for bad people....your car gets broken into if you go hiking/fishing,etc. We just don't feel safe anymore.".

The Push from Environmental Groups for MORE Federal Wilderness

The original ideal of Federal Wilderness has been increasingly compromised as environmental special interest groups try to designate as much acreage as possible as Federal Wilderness under the Wilderness Act of 1964.  These groups attempt to frighten people into believing that the open space areas will be quickly consumed with housing and development if a Federal Wilderness designation is not immediately imposed upon the areas.  In reality, the total forestland acreage has remained stable since 1900.  The information provided by many of the environmental and wilderness groups is often incomplete, misleading, and in some cases quite biased and inaccurate.  They boldly state that a Federal Wilderness designation is the only way to "protect" the land, viewing federal Wilderness designation as a "one size fits all" legislative hammer,  In fact, there are many other existing and proven land designations that can be tailored to meet local expectations and requirements. 

This trend has become all too common across the western states where there are large amounts of federally owned lands, and now the activists have targeted Dona Ana County.  To attempt to apply a Federal Wilderness designation to areas a few miles from an urban area and label it Wilderness is offensive to the original intent and spirit of the Wilderness Act and its founders. 

A proposal developed and promoted by the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance calls for roughly 1 of every 3 acres managed by the BLM in Dona Ana County to be designated as Federal Wilderness, with even more land targeted in their sights for future designation in what they claim as their "inventory".  While this would preserve our open space, the severe restrictions of a federal Wilderness designation would have far-reaching impacts that must be carefully considered.

THE MOVEMENT UNDERWAY TO RESTRICT OUR PUBLIC LAND UNDER THE GUISE OF "PROTECTING THE LAND" DOES NOT JUST AFFECT RANCHERS AND FARMERS. 

THERE WILL BE FAR REACHING SIGNIFICANT IMPACTS FOR ALL OF US.

ACCESS AND MANY BENEFICIAL USES OF THE AREAS
WILL BE SUBSTANTIALLY REDUCED
 OR COMPLETELY ELIMINATED. 

MANY, IF NOT MOST, EXISTING ROADS WILL BE CLOSED.

What Is Behind The Push For More Federal Wilderness?  WHO Is Behind It?

It would be easy to think that once the major "wild" areas in the United States were designated as federal Wilderness, the efforts of organizations lobbying for Wilderness designation would be completed.  However, that has not proven to be the case as these organizations push for more areas across the U.S., but especially in the western states, for federal Wilderness designation.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., stated: "We are not suffering from a lack of wilderness areas in the United States. According to the Census Bureau, we have 106 million acres of developed land and 107 million acres of (officially declared) wilderness land."  

The Census Bureau defines "developed land" as land with more than 10 residents per square MILE.  The Census Bureau also indicates that 94.6 Percent of the U.S. is "Rural Open Space". 

The 2009 Omnibus lands bill designated an additional 2 million acres, making the total wilderness over 109 million acres.  With so much Federally designed Wilderness, why does there continue to be such a strong push for more Wilderness designation?

Using words like "conservation", "preservation" and "protection", there are groups and individuals promoting an agenda which would restrict the access to our public lands to an elite few.  Organizations like the Wilderness Society and the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance receive their funding based on their ongoing efforts to obtain legislative federal Wilderness designation for as much acreage as possible.  The numerous issues surrounding the "Wilderness" and "Rewilding" environmental movements are quite serious. 

The summer issue of Wild Earth magazine, a journal promoting radical environmentalism, included a manifesto for the extinction of the human race, written under the pseudonym "Les U. Knight." The article said, "If you haven't given voluntary human extinction much thought before, the idea of a world with no people in it may seem strange. But, if you give it a chance, I think you might agree that the extinction of Homo sapiens would mean survival for millions, if not billions, of Earth-dwelling species. . . . Phasing out the human race will solve every problem on earth, social and environmental" ("Voluntary Human Extinction," Wild Earth, Vol. 1, No. 2, 72).

The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance Summer 2007 newsletter had an article on the founding board members of NMWA.  They stated in that article that Mr. Dave Foreman "provided many, if not most, of the philosophical underpinnings that guide the work of NMWA." 

Mr. Foreman was a founder of NMWA, and was listed on the Board of Directors through 2005.  To understand these "philosophical underpinnings", it is necessary to look in to Mr. Foreman and his career as an environmental movement leader.  Mr. Foreman has a long and well documented history. 

He co-founded the radical environmental group EarthFirst! and he wrote the book " Eco-Defense, A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching" along with several others.  He has been arrested by the FBI on conspiracy charges, among many other "accomplishments".  Mr. Foreman's most recent efforts focus on the "Rewilding of America" with his Rewilding Institute.

In Mr. Foreman's Own Words

There is a video titled "EARTHFIRST! The Politics of Radical Environmentalism" by Manes.  Excerpts of this 1987 documentary appeared on 60 Minutes.  The video is available in 4 parts: " Part 1", " Part 2" and " Part 3" and "Part 4"

Featured in the videos are past and present NMWA Board Members Dave Foreman, Nancy Morton (Dave Foreman's wife), and many other EarthFirst! followers.  Mr. Foreman has publicly stated that their philosophy and purpose is to "destroy civilization and technology, and eliminate the need for the word 'wilderness' because everything will be 'wilderness'"

Ms. Morton states in the documentary that "monkeywrenching" (sabatoge in the name of "eco-defense") is "using the tools of the devil against the devil"

Foreman is attributed with these quotes: “We must make this an insecure and inhospitable place for capitalists and their projects. We must reclaim the roads and plowed land, halt dam construction, tear down existing dams, free shackled rivers and return to wilderness millions of acres of presently settled land.”. and “My three main goals would be to reduce human population to about 100 million worldwide, destroy the industrial infrastructure and see wilderness, with it’s full complement of species, returning throughout the world.”

John Davis, a follower and the editor of the EarthFirst! Journal stated “I suspect that eradicating small pox was wrong. It played an important part in balancing ecosystems.”

Read additional quotes from a variety of these "Environmental Leaders" to attempt to better understand their position and philosophy.

For more background on Mr. Foreman and NMWA, see our Reference Material section.

Click here for a chronological look at the background of Dave Foreman and the environmental movement.

The NMWA Connection To EarthFirst!

The book "Coyotes and Town Dogs" indicates that the current Chair of the Board of Directors of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance (NMWA), C. Wesley Leonard, was also heavily involved with Dave Foreman in the inception of EarthFirst!.  Former NMWA Chairman Dr. Robert Howard has also been closely associated with Mr. Foreman in NMWA and The Wildlands Project and continues to be involved with Foreman's Rewilding Institute.  NMWA Board Member Todd Schulke also has ties to EarthFirst!.  For some background on the Wildlands Project, see these articles by Judy Keeler.

One of Mr. Foreman's numerous famous statements revealing his view that humanity is a scourge upon the land is "We humans have become a disease -- the Humanpox.".   Mr. Foreman also states "For almost forty years, I’ve supported slowing and then halting human population growth."   It would be reasonable to question why EarthFirst! followers, themselves humans, don't include themselves in these descriptions.  In the above videos, Foreman states that EarthFirst! members are "antibodies against the Humanpox".

The NMWA website reflects several relatively recent changes in the individuals serving on their Board of Directors, one of which is the addition of Nancy Morton to the Board.  Ms. Morton is recognized as a founding member of NMWA.  She is also the wife of Dave Foreman, and is listed on the "Working Group" for the Rewilding Institute

For more information, see our Dona Ana County History, Understanding the Agenda and our References and Resources sections.   

The background and past actions of these groups and individuals provide information which must be taken into consideration when evaluating their current positions and proposals.

If these groups succeed, beneficial use and enjoyment of our public lands would be severely restricted for most of the public.  Anyone unable to walk or hike into the areas from the perimeter or the selected "cherry stemmed" roads would no longer have access to the areas. 

Read the New Mexico Stockman article " The Wilderness Man (Likely) cometh!" for more background on the increasing push for more federal Wilderness designations in New Mexico.

These groups are are well funded and well organized, and should not be taken lightly.  In 2007, the Wilderness Society showed net assets of close to $35 million.  Salaries between $140,000 and $175,000 were reported for top staff positions.  The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance reported net revenue of $426,723 for 2007, and $888,506 for 2006 according to public IRS forms.  2007 total revenue was $426,723.

FYE 09/2008 Total Revenue for the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance was $1,100,510, according to the 2008 Form 990.  Mr. Dave Foreman is listed as an Advisor.

 UNDERSTANDING THE ENVIRONMENTALIST AGENDA

Proponents of wilderness state many reasons for their desire to "protect the land".  Preserving open space for future generations, preserving the view shed, stopping development, and so on.

The question is ...

WHY ARE THE ENVIRONMENTAL INTEREST GROUPS INVOLVED
SO UNWILLING TO CONSIDER ANY ALTERNATIVES
TO THE WILDERNESS DESIGNATION?

Jim Scarantino, a former Executive Director of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance (NMWA) and past Chairman of the Coalition for NM Wilderness, had a blogsite titled " New Mexico Wilderness".  He wrote several posts which provide important background, perspective and insight into the environmental groups and individuals involved in the proposed Dona Ana County wilderness areas. 

Mr. Scarantino also wrote a letter, stating: "Underlying the problems with the Dona Ana County wilderness campaign is the fact that the persons ultimately calling the shots, behind the screen of a legitimate-seeming coalition and local organizers, hail from the most radical wing of the environmental movement.  They include persons who founded and participated in EarthFirst, the nation's first eco-terrorist group. ... That is not the sort of mindset that makes legislation possible, and helps explain why the wilderness community has produced so little new wilderness legislation in New Mexico over the past two decades."   

IT QUICKLY BECOMES CLEAR THAT SOME ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS HAVE A MUCH BROADER AGENDA, WHICH IS TO ELIMINATE THE VAST MAJORITY OF THE PUBLIC FROM THE FEDERAL LANDS --- AND THEY ARE WILLING TO GO TO GREAT LENGTHS TO ACCOMPLISH THEIR OBJECTIVES.

The publication titled " Eco-Terrorism: When Violence Becomes an Environmentalist Tactic" contains an eye-opening overview of this trend in the environmental community.  On September 1, 2010, an environmental extremist terrorized the Discovery Channel headquarters before being shot and killed by police. 

Tree Hugger Terrorizes Discovery Channel (Human Events)
Four More Explosives Detonated at Home Tied to Discovery Channel Gunman (Fox News)
Gunman's Environmental Grudges Well Known before Discovery Channel Hostage Standoff (Fox News)
Gunman Likely Viewed Himself as Environmentalist Martyr, Former FBI Profiler Says (Fox News)

The 6 part series " How Eco-terrorism Works" by Discovery Communications, Inc.  FBI testimony reveals the depth of this problem in the following statements:

·         "In recent years, animal rights extremists and eco-terrorists have become the most active criminal extremist elements in the United States."

·         "The eco-terrorist movement has given rise and notoriety to groups such as the Animal Liberation Front, or ALF, and the Earth Liberation Front, or ELF. These groups exist to commit serious acts of vandalism, and to harass and intimidate owners and employees of the business sector."

Dave Foreman was a founder of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance (NMWA) and is also credited as co-founder of the radical environmental group "Earth First"

According to the FBI testimony, "In 1992, the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) was founded in Brighton, England, by Earth First! members who refused to abandon criminal acts as a tactic when others wished to mainstream Earth First!.  In 1993, the ELF was listed for the first time along with the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) in a communique declaring solidarity in actions between the two groups. This unity continues today with a crossover of leadership and membership."   The FBI goes on to state "During the past several years, special interest extremism, as characterized by the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), has emerged as a serious terrorist threat."

Although the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance has removed Mr. Foreman from their website, there is most certainly what appears to be a close working relationship.  Mr. Foreman was a featured speaker at the 2006 New Mexico Wilderness Conference, sponsored by NMWA, on Nov. 11, 2006 in Santa Fe.  A flyer for the event read: "Dave Foreman, Director of The Rewilding Institute and Founding Father of NMWA, presenting “The Future of Wilderness"

The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance Spring 2007 newsletter featured an article by Mr. Foreman.  The Summer 2007 newsletter had an article on the founding board members of NMWA, and stated that Dave Foreman "provided many, if not most, of the philosophical underpinnings that guide the work of NMWA.".  A quote from an article on the EarthFirst! Journal website sums up the philosophy well with the statement "Humanity is not seen as a part of nature but an enemy of it."

Click here for more background information on Dave Foreman.

We have provided numerous resources to help people learn more about environmental groups and their objectives, and we strongly encourage everyone to learn more about the underlying principles and purposes behind the wilderness and "re-wilding" movement. 

"WILDERNESS" IS JUST THE BEGINNING...

There are often concessions that are made to secure support for designating new Wilderness areas.  Local groups and individuals are encouraged to compromise, with assurances that the concessions they agree to will be included in the wilderness legislation for the area.  What people don't realize is that the Wilderness designation is just a start.  It creates a foothold. 

Once the wilderness designation is in place, other groups like "Wilderness Watch", "Forest Guardians" and others move in to begin their work of initiating legislation to remove the concessions put in place when the wilderness designation was established.

See our
Reference & Resources section for more information and background.

What About a Compromise?

Wilderness organizations are in business to advocate and lobby for Federal Wilderness designation.  Occasionally, they support other land designations, but their primary focus has consistently been federal Wilderness designation. 

Because the requirements for federal Wilderness designation and the management of designated areas is mandated by federal law, the only point of possible compromise is the location of the boundaries for the areas.

There is no opportunity to structure the requirements for the area, or the management of the area, to meet the specific needs of the community.  Clearly, there is no real opportunity for compromise.

This is one of the reasons the news throughout states with pending Federal Wilderness designation reveals so much conflict and controversy that rises from the local communities who will be impacted.

THERE ARE ALTERNATIVES

Once the Community Expectations have been identified for a particular area, the logical question that follows should be:  "What is the best tool to appropriately protect and manage these areas and meet the community expectations?"

While nearly everyone in our community agrees that our open spaces should be protected, there are opposing views on how to best accomplish this worthwhile goal. 

FEDERAL WILDERNESS DESIGNATION IS NOT THE ONLY OPTION

There are numerous administrative and legislative Alternatives that can be used to appropriately manage specific resources while protecting existing property rights, providing reasonable flexibility to land management agencies and law enforcement agencies, and preserving access to the general public for recreation and enjoyment. 

The congressional designation of Wilderness brings with it a very stringent level of management requirements and restrictions which must be followed by the agency responsible for managing the land.  The public needs to be fully aware of the numerous consequences of Federal Wilderness designation that will impact every citizen. 

DESPITE THE CLAIMS OF MANY ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS,
PROTECTING THE LAND AND NATURAL RESOURCES
DOES NOT REQUIRE A DESIGNATION OF WILDERNESS.

 

The proposed legislation by People for Preserving Our Western Heritage results in a meaningful balance between environmental protection, conservation, recreation, community development, water resource management, law enforcement and respect for private property rights.
 

UNDERSTAND THE ISSUES & KNOW THE ALTERNATIVES

The wilderness ideal that is discussed and promoted can sound very appealing, but the reality can be quite another matter. 

WE ALL CHERISH OUR OPEN SPACE.

We believe that all these issues must be weighed and given serious consideration and thought.  We should carefully evaluate the historical facts from other areas where wilderness has been designated to better understand these complex issues.  The consequences and ramifications must be clearly understood before allowing any land in Dona Ana County to be designated "wilderness". 

We do believe that most people in Dona Ana County do support protecting the open space and the view sheds.  Our group supports that as well, because without open space there can be no ranching.  We also believe that most people have unfortunately been led to believe that a wilderness designation is THE ONLY way to protect the land.

IT IS ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL THAT PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THE SERIOUS RAMIFICATIONS OF A WILDERNESS DESIGNATION, AND THAT WILDERNESS IS NOT THE ONLY MEANS AVAILABLE TO PROTECT OUR OPEN SPACE. 

THERE ARE MANY OTHER ALTERNATIVES AVAILABLE TO US THAT SHOULD BE GIVEN APPROPRIATE CONSIDERATION.

Learn more about this legislative proposal, endorsed by respected professionals and supported by a large Coalition of businesses and community organizations.
 

   
 

NATIONAL SECURITY & LAW ENFORCEMENT ISSUES

Federal Wilderness designation prohibits motorized vehicles, mechanized equipment, and structures.  This creates a serious handicap for members of the law enforcement community, resulting in a direct threat to our national security.  Areas with federal land designations have become havens for drug smuggling, human smuggling and other criminal activity.

For border security news, see the M3 Report - Reports derived and translated directly from Mexican and Central American News Sources by the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers (NAFBPO)

See the News New Mexico coverage on Border issues.

Read more about National Security Issues.
 

   
 

SEARCH & RESCUE, FIRE CONTROL ISSUES

The prohibited use of motorized vehicles impedes efforts for search & rescue, and places unnecessary burdens on fire fighting personnel. 

At best, fire fighting forces and search & rescue operations are delayed when attempting to operate in a designated wilderness area.  The constant threat of litigation from the environmental community creates a very challenging and difficult environment for these professionals.

Debra Russell, President of the Dona Ana County Sheriff's Posse, writes "There are two issues that we are immediately concerned about regarding the designation of Wilderness status in our County.  The first is access to open spaces heretofore unrestricted.  The roads and points of access into the present WSA's designated bounds have become and remain immediate access for our activities.  As such, we believe they are legal right-of-ways that must be permanently and without qualification left open to access.  Secondly, the Homeland Security demands that are increasing annually have huge implications especially in the West Portrillo area of the proposal.  If access is closed to the West Potrillo WSA, we believe the only observers of the closure to mechanized access will be the drug runners and coyotes that will welcome the presence of a huge chunk of open space adjacent to the border.".

The Dona Ana County Sheriff's Posse position is: "Our organization does not and cannot support the current scheme of carving out Wilderness in Dona Ana County for the stated reasons presented and pushed by advocates who knowingly or unknowingly disregard the qualification of true Wilderness designation according to our understanding of the Wilderness Act."

Fire fighting challenges in other designated wilderness areas are in the news almost daily.  In many cases, fire prevention activities are completely prohibited.  This results in disastrous fires which kill wildlife, destroy property and sometimes take human lives. 

From the Aspen Times - " Forest Service assesses effects of Wilderness on firefighting" - "Turning Basalt Mountain into Wilderness wouldn't prohibit firefighting there but it would eliminate opportunities to reduce dead trees and fuels that have built up for decades, the top official in the White River National Forest said Wednesday. ... Fire Chief Scott Thompson said that, with all due respect to the Forest Service, the written rules and the application of rules aren't always the same. Written rules that appear to provide flexibility can actually provide an extra hurdle."

Roger Hedgecock, San Diego KOGO radio talk show host interviews Zack Taylor, retired Border Patrol officer, on the proposed Tumacacori Highlands Wilderness designation (HR 3287 & 2593) and how it would affect fire fighting efforts and hamper the Border Patrol efforts to stop drug smuggling, human smuggling, and terrorist smuggling on our borders.

Fire Fighting Along the Border Part 1  Part 2  Part 3 (Part 3 has the most information related to illegal immigration impacts)

The "hands off" approach to wilderness area management and prohibition of motorized vehicles is a very dangerous combination, with serious impacts.   
 

   
 

WATER MANAGEMENT & FLOOD CONTROL ISSUES

Managing the water resources in the arid Southwest is a significant concern for all residents of this area.  Federal Wilderness designation restricts construction of any structures, including dams and water holding facilities.  Prohibition of mechanizes and motorized equipment will hamper maintenance of existing dams in the designated Wilderness.

Read more about Water Management Issues.
 

   
 

LAND DISPOSAL AND DEVELOPMENT ISSUES

Managing growth and development is an important issue, but it should not be a factor for designating wilderness areas. 

Many groups and individuals who support congressional wilderness designation of public lands bring up the issue of land disposal and development of Federal lands.  They state that a wilderness designation will block all future development, thus "protecting" the land, and imply that a wilderness designation is the ONLY way to protect land from disposal and development.

Another important reality that must be understood is that any vibrant, prospering community must have room for growth.  Because less than 10% of Dona Ana County is privately owned, growth for our community is a complicated issue.  Without gradual and managed release of designated Federal lands for disposal and sale into private ownership for development, the pressure to sell farm and private ranch lands becomes significant.  We have already seen many historic farms in our community sold and subdivided for housing or commercial development.  Unless we take steps to protect the farm and ranch lands that remain, they may also disappear.  Releasing small amounts of the Federal land into the private sector is necessary for beneficial growth of our community.

Read more about Land Disposal And Development Issues.
 

   
 

RECREATIONAL RESTRICTIONS AND CONCERNS

A wilderness designation limits access and decreases (and in some cases eliminates) recreational opportunities. 

 

    

The photos above show some of the signs that are CURRENTLY POSTED in areas of the Organ Mountains (Aguirre Springs and Dripping Springs).  A Federal designation of Wilderness is EVEN MORE RESTRICTIVE than the current land use designations already in place!

When unveiling a proposed trail system for the Black Hills, Forest Service employee Tom Willems stated "We're going to tell you where you go, when you can go there and what equipment will be allowed".   This statement clearly demonstrates their attitude toward the public users of the Federal lands. 

The prohibition on all motorized and mechanized vehicles substantially restricts access for recreationalists and sportsmen.  This restriction includes motorized wheelchairs, which raises concerns about conflicts with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Mountain Biking is prohibited.  Hunters have great difficulty removing game, since motorized vehicles and some deer carts are prohibited.  Even horseback riding is vulnerable, with the instances of trail closure to horseback access in wilderness areas increasing at an alarming rate and increasing animosity towards stock animals on Federal lands from some organizations. 

The BlueRibbon Coalition is one organization which promotes preserving our natural resources for the public's use and enjoyment.  Advocates for Access to Public Lands is a another group working to preserve Multiple Use Lands and preserve access to trails.  For more information about this group, see their website.  They are also sponsoring a petition to stop further inappropriate Wilderness Designation.

Hunting would be impacted by the devastating effects of illegal immigration through the corridors established by Wilderness designation.  Western Hunter magazine had this article on the issue: Illegal Immigration's Negative Impact on Hunting

The severe restrictions imposed on wilderness areas result in land that is accessible to only the most athletic and fit hikers, and the majority of the public is no longer able to enjoy their recreational pursuits on the pubic land
 

   
 

PRESERVING WESTERN HERITAGE

Most of us are located here in southern New Mexico because of it's surroundings and because of our love and respect for the true Western Heritage that is part of the history and culture of Dona Ana County.  This is our home, and many of us have several generations of family history in this area.

We all cherish the beautiful open space that is so abundant in our county.  We believe we should ALL be able to enjoy the beautiful areas that surround us in a responsible manner. 

Ranching exists in the southwest only because of the historic preservation of open space.  Without open space, ranching disappears.  Displace the rancher, and open space will be gone.

Ranchers and farmers are the historical stewards of the land.

The historical stewardship of the land has contributed to our beautiful rangelands we enjoy today.  The rangelands are the lifeblood of the rancher.

A group of ranchers and other concerned citizens formed the group PEOPLE FOR PRESERVING OUR WESTERN HERITAGE in late 2006, in response to proposed designation of Federal Wilderness for lands in Dona Ana County, New Mexico.

One of our areas of focus is to inform the public of the serious issues and community impacts related to the Federal designation of Wilderness.

Initially, our concerns were focused primarily on the devastating impacts to ranching and agriculture that history has shown after Federal Wilderness designation in other areas.  You can read an article on the history of one ranching family that was faced with federal Wilderness designation: " The Gila Wilderness and a Ranch Family History".  However, we soon began to see that there were serious consequences that reached far beyond the ranching and agricultural community. 

We can protect these areas and maintain the character of the history the area represents.  Man is an important part of that history, and should not be banned from its future.
 

   
 

RANCHING, GRAZING & LAND STEWARDSHIP

Wilderness restrictions create substantial hardships for ranchers, often resulting in the loss of economic viability for the operation. 

Federal Wilderness designation causes management agencies to prioritize the management plan for an area differently than when the area is in the multiple-use designation.  Areas designated wilderness must, by law, be managed with priority given to the "wilderness characteristics and values".

The Wilderness Act of 1964, Section 4 (b), lists the only allowed uses for designated Wilderness areas as "recreation, scenic, scientific, educational, conservation, and historical use."  Grazing is not listed. 

Section 4 (d) addresses Special Provisions, which has the following language:

"The grazing of livestock, where established prior to September 3, 1964, shall be permitted to continue, subject to such reasonable regulations as are deemed necessary by the Secretary of Agriculture."

Clearly, it was the intent of the authors of the Act to protect grazing and ranchers.  Grazing is allowed, or more accurately "tolerated", as a special provision with great latitude given to the administrating agency. 

When the original grazing provisions revealed weaknesses and issues surfaced, Congress responded in 1980 in the Colorado Wilderness Act by reaffirming that the grazing of cattle was allowed where it existed prior to the Wilderness Act of 1964.  Further, the Forest Service was instructed to update its Grazing Guidelines within its operating manual to assure that wilderness areas would not be de-stocked by any future interpretations of the Wilderness Act by Forest Service officials.  However, these Congressional "Grazing Guidelines" are in the report language and are not part of the law.

In practice, history has shown that these measures have failed to provide a reasonable level of protection for the ranching industry, resulting in many ranching families losing their business, their livelihood and their heritage. 

SYSTEMATIC ELIMINATION OF RANCHING OPERATIONS

The Gila, with its designated wilderness areas, is a classic example.  The Gila Wilderness and the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Area are separate areas.  In 1964, Congress officially designated the 588,014 acre Gila Wilderness, within the 3.3 million acre Gila National Forest, as Federal Wilderness.  In 1970, the 202,016 acre Aldo Leopold Wilderness Area and the 29,304 acre Blue Range Wilderness Area were added to the designated wilderness within the Gila.  The Aldo Leopold Wilderness was created from the Mimbres and Black Range Primitive Areas, which were named "primitive areas" in 1924 when Congress unofficially declared the Gila Wilderness Area.  The Blue Range Wilderness was extended from the Arizona Blue Range Primitive Area along the New Mexico/Arizona line south of Reserve, New Mexico.  The managing agency is the U.S. Forest Service.

The NMSU Range Improvement Task Force (RITF) studied these areas in the Gila.  Dr. John Fowler presented their findings in 2000.   The study showed an 86.7% decrease in cattle grazing in the Gila National Forest, including the designated Wilderness areas.

The RITF study evaluated numerous factors (cattle prices, precipitation, etc.) that could have contributed to this staggering reduction in grazing.  Their conclusion was that the U.S. Forest Service administrative policy, notwithstanding the Congressional actions of 1980, was the single greatest factor in the decrease of livestock numbers in the area. 

A website for the " Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics", in their "FSEEE Appeals" section, has an article under the heading "Stop Destructive Grazing and Preserve Species on National Forests".  The article opens with "Cattle grazing accounts for the most widespread abuse of public land in the American West..." 

"ONE BITE AT A TIME..."

The BLM also recognized the reality of the methodical administrative elimination of grazing.  At a City of Las Cruces meeting, Mr. Ed Roberson, Las Cruces BLM District Manager at the time, publicly stated "The ranchers are afraid of being 'eaten' one bite at a time"

The administrative and policy decisions can be applied to systematically add increasing burdens, and cost, to daily operational activities.  Because of the low margins of profit in the ranching industry, these added burdens can quickly bring an operation to the point where economic viability can not be maintained.  The value of the allotment and the ranch as a whole evaporates, and the rancher is forced out of business with no compensation for the damages.

For a perspective on the impacts of federal wilderness designation on ranching operations, see the Western Livestock Journal article: " New Mexico faces possibility of new wilderness designation".

GRAZING GUIDELINES OFFER LITTLE PROTECTION

Additionally, it is important to note that the grazing guidelines were developed and written for areas with natural sources of water, and areas where grazing is seasonal, with ranchers bringing cattle to the areas in the spring, and removing them in the fall.  Many of these areas have natural boundaries which provide natural "fences", eliminating the need for access for fence repair and maintenance.  Principally, the Congressional Grazing Guidelines apply to seasonal grazing allotments.  They were not designed to address the requirements necessary for year-round grazing in the arid desert regions of southern New Mexico and the Southwest.  And finally, these Grazing Guidelines are in the report language, and not part of the law.

In Dona Ana County, ranchers have year-round grazing allotments.  There are no permanent streams in any of the areas proposed for Federal Wilderness designation.  The arid conditions of the desert region require construction and virtually daily maintenance of wells and dirt tanks to manage grazing operations.

RETURNING TO THE 19TH CENTURY

Activities in a Wilderness area are highly controlled and regulated.  The prohibition on motorized vehicles is significant, since there is daily need for the use of motorized vehicles on ranches in our county to maintain viable ranching operations.  Many routine ranching activities require individual advance written authorization each time they occur, followed by a comment period for "interested parties".  Administrative burdens and impediments have caused many ranchers attempting to operate in wilderness areas to go out of business.

Section 4 (c) of the Wilderness Act clearly prohibits permanent and temporary roads and motorized vehicles, among other uses.  Many areas in Dona Ana County contain numerous roads which are used regularly by the ranchers, sportsmen, recreationalists and others.  The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance assures everyone they will get those roads "cherry stemmed", a mapping technique which carves the roads out of the designated wilderness area on paper.  However, since federal Wilderness designation is a legislative act of Congress, NMWA does not have the ability or the authority to create cherry stems.

The prohibition on motorized vehicles is significant, since there is daily need for the use of motorized vehicles on ranches in our county to maintain viable ranching operations. 

The reality is that grazing is technically "allowed" in designated Wilderness areas, but ONLY if the rancher is content with and able to operate using the methods of the 19th century.  This can be better understood by contemplating the response of any business owner today being asked to operate without the use of telephones, fax machines and computers.  While in some cases it may be possible, it is neither practical or realistic.

The ranching community is deeply concerned about the proposed wilderness designations and the consequences this designation would have for ranching and ranchers.  View a short video clip of an impromptu interview by Erik Ness, New Mexico Farm Bureau and Jodi Denning, People for Preserving Our Western Heritage.

LOSS OF STEWARDSHIP OPPORTUNITIES AND PROPERTY RIGHTS

Many professional range scientists believe that active range management, sometimes with intervention techniques such as mechanical or herbicide brush control, is essential to avoid desertification of this environment, with or without livestock grazing.

The ranchers also have serious concerns about the impact to their operations and damage to the value of their property and loss of property rights.  Mr. Mark Hillman, former Colorado state Senator, eloquently stated "When a mere majority, which has no investment of time or labor nor any legitimate stake in your property, can seize it for their own purposes or regulate it into financial ruin, property ownership has become a privilege, not a right." in a Denver Post article titled " Property rights become privileges".

We recognize that not all members of the environmental community and not all environmental organizations are opposed to ranchers and grazing.  Some groups do recognize the beneficial relationship between ranching and conservation, and understand the numerous benefits of ranching, both to the land and to the wildlife.  View some great wildlife photos taken by a camera stationed near a rancher's drinker.  However, we also must acknowledge that many groups and individuals in the environmental community DO actively support policies which call for the reduction or even the complete elimination of grazing

For a more thorough understanding, take a look at our Grazing Issues and Rancher's Concerns pages, which outlines some of the complex issues related to wilderness and ranching.  We also have additional information on the history of ranching and related property rights.
 

   
 

CONSERVATION, STEWARDSHIP AND WILDLIFE

A wilderness designation and the accompanying restrictions will eliminate most, if not all, beneficial land management practices. 

Research at the Jornada Experimental Range, New Mexico State University and other locations has shown that active management practices are required to return an area to its historic vegetative conditions.  The majority of these management practices would be prohibited by the restrictions places on management of wilderness areas. 

Bob Alexander, Certified Professional in Rangeland Management and retired BLM Rangeland Management Specialist, states "It is now recognized by rangeland ecological science that rangelands often go through thresholds and they will not return to the historic vegetation conditions without significant physical management actions."  and "Keeping areas that do not have the historic vegetation out of designated Wilderness and Wilderness Study Area status is necessary because it is likely that applying the required herbicides and mechanical practices will not be allowed in areas designated as Wilderness or Wilderness Study Areas. Thus, the areas that are not in the historic vegetation condition would be doomed to remain without historic vegetation if put under Wilderness or Wilderness Study Area designation". 

The limitations placed on the activities allowed in areas designated as wilderness apply to ALL activities, including positive and beneficial conservation efforts for land and wildlife.  Wilderness restrictions and limitations impose a "hands-off" philosophy on stewardship, effectively eliminating beneficial conservation efforts.  Activities which help maintain rangeland health and assist wildlife are obstructed, or at best made much more difficult and costly.

Invasion of the Invasive Species! - Local Biodiversity is Increasing

Southern Arizona Sportsmen's Alliance member Larry Audsley stated in a recent Arizona Daily Star article "Only careless thinking or lack of familiarity with existing Forest Service policies could allow anyone to believe a wilderness designation is really about preventing urban sprawl, all-terrain vehicle abuse, power lines, development of National Forest lands or proliferation of forest roads. These issues can be better addressed through other means that would yield fewer unintended consequences.".  He also states that "Wildlife advocates should be especially concerned that lands managed under a wilderness designation give priority to the human wilderness experience above the needs of wildlife."

The Arizona Game & Fish Department wrote a document titled "Historical Perspective of Wildlife Management in Wilderness", which was intended to  show the difficulty in managing wildlife in areas that have special designations, such as wilderness, monuments, etc.  The department states "The Arizona Game and Fish Department has experienced restrictions resulting from Special Land Designations including project delays, increased costs, increased man-hours, etc.  This ultimately leads to decreased efficiency in protecting and managing Arizona's wildlife resources. ... From a project planning standpoint, it is extremely difficult to second-guess a particular reaction to implementing a study, developing or maintaining a wildlife project or requesting permission for emergency access to a Wilderness area."

Laws specifically intended to restrict human activity result in a legally mandated neglect of the area.
 

   
 

 


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