New Mexico lawmakers introduce bill to add Crest of Montezuma to north end of Cibola National Forest, shift management to US Forest Service from BLM; bill aims to protect land from development, simplify federal land management, improve recreational access

WASHINGTON , December 13, 2013 (press release) – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham (N.M.-1) have introduced legislation in the Senate and the House to add the Crest of Montezuma to the north end of the Cibola National Forest and shift its management from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to the U.S. Forest Service. The companion bills would improve recreational access for local residents while ensuring the land, located just east of the village of Placitas in New Mexico, is not subject to future mining and development.

“The Crest of Montezuma is the backdrop to historic Placitas village. But many local residents have shared their concerns with me about the future of this land. Most concerning to them are the ways in which access could be restricted for recreational uses and that a critical corridor for wildlife would be endangered," said Sen. Heinrich, a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. “By shifting the management of the Crest of Montezuma to the Forest Service, New Mexicans can be sure that the land is not sold to private interests or developed for mineral resources. I look forward to working with Representative Lujan Grisham to improve recreational access to this spectacular area for families now and for future generations to enjoy.”

"New Mexico's treasured public lands are a vital aspect of our state's history, economy and culture," said Rep. Lujan Grisham. "This legislation will ensure that the Crest of Montezuma is protected from future development while also improving recreational access for local communities. I'm proud to be working with Senator Heinrich to preserve this area for the New Mexicans who enjoy it and the diverse wildlife that inhabit it."

The legislation would also simplify management of the area by unifying federal land management under the Forest Service.

This proposal has strong support from the local community, including Las Placitas Association, a citizen group that represents residents near the Crest of Montezuma, and the New Mexico Wildlife Federation.

As a member of the House of Representatives, then-Rep. Heinrich introduced a similar bill that passed the House by a unanimous vote in 2012. This is the first time the legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate.

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