New Mexico Wilderness Area Grows by 50% After Largest-Ever Land Donation

Sabinoso Wilderness Area in New Mexico, an inaccessible and tiny refuge just five years ago, has grown by almost 10,000 acres, or 50% of its total size, after receiving the largest gift in the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) history.

The Cañon Ciruela property was donated by the Trust for Public Land which works to create public spaces from private donations all over America, and was a follow up from another much smaller donation made in 2017 in an effort to grow Sabinoso out from the confines of private landholdings which surrounded it.

Described as “a series of high, narrow mesas surrounded by cliff-lined canyons,” the BLM, who manages wilderness areas in the U.S, called the property “rugged country primarily [of] piñon pine and juniper woodlands with occasional clusters of ponderosa pine. A perennial warm season grass savanna is found on the mesa tops. Streams periodically flow in the canyon bottoms supporting riparian vegetation including willow and cottonwood.”

The area is home to black bears, mountain lion, elk, mule deer, and turkey, among smaller animals.

Pueblo Tribal member and Secretary of the Interior Debra Haaland visited a remote patch of the wilderness in New Mexico’s San Miguel County to talk of the gift, recognizing the land’s history as a hunting ground of several native tribes, including the Jicarilla Apache and northern Pueblos.

“We’re here today because we recognize the importance of preserving this special place,” the Secretary said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “We know that nature is essential to the health, well-being and prosperity of every family and every community.”

The Cañon Ciruela property provides a second public access point for the wilderness area, which was opened for hiking, primitive camping, hunting, and more under the DOI of Ryan Zinke in 2017.

Additionally, the donation permanently protects a critical tributary watershed that feeds into the existing wilderness which ensures there will be nothing but natural forces that interrupt the life-giving waters flowing into the area.

The Trust for Public Lands is the kind of entity President Biden is relying on to conserve 30% of America’s geographic area in its natural state as part of his commitment to preventing climate change, and as part of the America the Beautiful Act, which rather than sweeping government penmanship, hopes to rely mainly on private landowners and donations to reach the “30×30 goal.”

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