Creating national monuments, without input from New Mexico stakeholders, denies a voice to those most affected. No designation of a national monument should take place without public discussion and approval of New Mexico residents, stakeholders, and Congress. Such an important decision deserves a transparent process with a comprehensive discussion of the consequences.
Forested areas are at risk of catastrophic wildfire and in need of restoration. Decades of fire suppression and hands-off management have created conditions ripe for unnaturally large and intense wildfires that can devastate old growth forests, wildlife habitat, and watershed function. Placing the area under a more restrictive designation will make essential restoration projects even more litigious and difficult to implement.
Wildlife translocations, maintenance/development of water sources, and habitat restoration projects may be delayed or prohibited, impeding the State’s ability to meet its trust responsibilities and diminishing New Mexico’s wildlife management authorities. Designation also allows federal monument managers to make management of wildlife resources a secondary concern to maintaining “solitude, “naturalness,” and other characteristics associated with national parks and wilderness areas. Monuments designation sets the stage for future, more restrictive land use allocations and designations, further impeding public access, hunting, and management flexibility.