New Mexico Wilderness Bill – Another Disastrous Federal Land Grab
The presence of any Wilderness on the Mexican border is a danger to the security of the United States.
National Association of Former Border Patrol Agents
The New Mexico Wilderness Bill, if enacted, will be disastrous for New Mexico and disastrous for America.
New Mexico Senators Udal (D), a member of the Progressive Caucus, and Bingaman (D) have sponsored two conservation bills, S.874/H.R.5334 in northern NM and S.1689 in southern New Mexico’s Dona Ana County. Should these bills be enacted into law roughly 739,000 additional acres of land will be placed under the purview of the Department of the Interior (DOI). This legislation imposes Federal Wilderness Designation, the most restrictive of all federal land management designations, on 241,400 acres of lands in Dona Ana County, along with 99,150 acres of National Conservation Area (NCA) designation.
How much land is this? This area is over 532 square miles of land, nearly 14% of Dona Ana County, and over a little over half the size of the state of Rhode Island. On the US/Mexico border!
What does Federal Wilderness Designation mean? 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 motorized equipment of motorboats
- no landing of aircraft
- no form of mechanical transport
- no structure or installation
Of course these restrictions would not concern people that have no regard for U.S. laws. People like the drug cartels, drug smugglers, illegal aliens, human traffickers, etc. The DOI has submitted a 2002 report titled “Threat Assessment of Public Lands” that outlines the dangers that we face on a daily basis from illegal incursions on these lands. The report contains grim statistics. Video here.
Then there’s the issue of the Border Patrol not having ready access to these federally designated lands.
“Interior Department Aids and Abets Illegal Entry into US”.
The Interior Department of the Obama Administration is blocking access to federal lands, preventing the US Border Patrol from sealing, or even patrolling vast areas of the US southern border with Mexico. This according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) draft report.
More than 40 percent of the southwest borderland has been deemed “federal land” and is managed by the Interior Department. The GAO reports that Department of Interior’s federal land managers are actively preventing Border Patrol agents from doing their job. The report says, “With limited access for patrols and monitoring, some illegal entries may go undetected.” The question is “how many?” The likely answer is “thousands.”
“The severity of the crisis along the border cannot be underestimated,” says Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah. Sweeping areas of America’s borderlands, wilderness, and parklands are now determined to be too dangerous for American citizens and have been effectively surrendered to waves of drug traffickers and human-smugglers feeding on desperate, illegal immigrants. Homeland Security’s mission to prevent potential terrorists from entering is also thwarted.
The federal government has authorized expenditures of the American taxpayer’s money in the amount of $1.6 billion through the US Border Patrol over the last five years in the Secure Border Initiative. However, the border is at its very weakest and is most unprotected exactly where it’s under the federal management of the Interior Department.
In a written statement, Rep. Bishop says, “When you take a look at the track record of the border patrol you will see that they are extremely effective and successful in the border areas they are able to routinely patrol—private and state lands. Unfortunately, this does not include the federal lands and it should.” As the lives of American citizens become more endangered and tragic crimes mount, the Interior Department defends their interference with Border Patrol operations by claiming they are “protecting the wilderness.” The GAO reports among several anecdotal examples, that Border Patrol agents encounter locked gates at the San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona. The administrative roads that Border Patrol agents would use to patrol the border are blocked because their vehicles might “threaten the habitat of the endangered Yaqui chub fish.”
In a dangerous and twisted irony that can only be wrought from the poorly managed and grossly ineffective federal government, the Interior Department points to its goal of protecting the land from human interference. But by blocking access to the Border Patrol, they have facilitated hoards of illegal immigrants and drug traffickers to trample and trash the very same wilderness refuge they claim to want to protect.
Who’s the driving force behind this legislation? The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, a non-profit 501(C)(3), grassroots, environmental organization dedicated to the protection, restoration, and continued enjoyment of New Mexico’s wildlands and Wilderness areas. The primary goal of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance is to ensure the protection and restoration of all remaining wild lands in New Mexico through administrative designations, federal wilderness designation, and on-going advocacy. The co-founder of NWA is Dave Foreman. Mr. Foreman is the founder of Earth First! and the author of “Confessions of An Eco-Warrior”.
The group opposing this legislation is The People For The Preservation of Our Western Heritage (PFPOWH), an advocacy group whose Mission Statement is “To Preserve, Promote, and Protect the Farming, Ranching, and and Rural Heritage of Our Western Lands”. Their Motto is “Preserve The Land For The People, Not From The People”.
In Dona Ana County there are two political candidates who reject this proposed legislation. Susana Martinez, candidate for Governor (R), a native of Las Cruces, calls S.1689 a “land grab” and Terry McMillan M.D., candidate for State Rep. District 37, is a member of PFPOWN and has also spoken out against S.1689. His opponent, Jeff Steinborn, State Rep, is a Director of The Southern NM Wilderness Alliance and a strong proponent of S.1689.
As Michele Malkin points out in her article titled “The Great Obama Land Grab” for the Washington Examiner, the federal government currently owns one of every three acres of land in the United States.
Indeed, the feds have enough trouble as it is managing the vast amount of land they already control. As the D.C.-based Americans for Limited Government group, which defends private property rights, points out:
“The [National Park Service] claims it would need about $9.5 billion just to clear its backlog of the necessary improvements and repairs. At a time when our existing national parks are suffering, it doesn’t make sense for the federal government to grab new lands.”
The bureaucrats behind Obama’s “Great Outdoors Initiative” plan on wrapping up their public comment solicitation by Nov. 15. The initiative’s taxpayer-funded web site (http://ideas.usda.gov/ago/ideas.nsf/) has been dominated by left-wing environmental activists proposing human population reduction, private property confiscation, and gun bans, hunting bans and vehicle bans in national parks.
It’s time for private property owners to send their own loud, clear message to the land-hungry feds: Take a hike.
Tomorrow I’ll detail the outcomes Arizona is experiencing since designating border lands Federal Wilderness Areas. Outcomes that New Mexico can expect to be repeated here should this legislation be enacted into law.
- Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
- Albert Einstein, (attributed)
US (German-born) physicist (1879 – 1955)