Santa Fe and San Miguel County Commissions Pass Wildlife Corridor Resolutions

Community members from San Miguel County, including Rock Ulibarri HECHO Advisory Board Chair (center), participated in the public comment period and addressed the county commission on the matter of wildlife corridors.

SANTA FE -- The Santa Fe and San Miguel County Commissions on Tuesday both unanimously endorsed resolutions in support of protecting wildlife corridors in the upper Rio Grande Basin. The resolutions also urge Congress to support pending legislation to protect wildlife corridors nationwide.

The New Mexico Wildlife Federation and HECHO (Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting and the Outdoors) spoke in favor of the resolutions. Santa Fe County Commissioner Henry P. Roybal sponsored the resolution in his county while San Miguel County Commissioner Max Trujillo sponsored it in his.

San Miguel County resident Rock Ulibarri chairs the national advisory board of HECHO. He attended the San Miguel County meeting and thanked commissioners of both counties afterward for sponsoring the measures.

"Passing the Wildlife Migration Corridor Resolutions at this level sets a precedent, showing communities that our traditions, culture, and uses of these lands are valuable," Ulibarri said. "With so many barriers to migration patterns like highways and other urbanizing development, these corridors ensure the protection of genetic diversity, and the continuation of species.”

Jesse Deubel, executive director of the NMWF, spoke at the Santa Fe meeting. He noted that the New Mexico Legislature passed a bill earlier this year that puts up $500,000 for the state departments of game and fish and transportation to work to identify places where wildlife corridors should be better protected for the safety of both motorists and animals.

"The New Mexico Wildlife Federation is working as part of a very large coalition of other conservation organizations (on the corridor issue)," Deubel said. While the state is working to increase its multi-billion-dollar outdoor recreation economy, he said people must be mindful of the effect on wildlife populations.

Deubel informed the commission that Michael Dax of Defenders of Wildlife was the the meeting. Dax worked closely with Sen. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, to get the bill though the Legislature.

Deubel noted that U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., is a main sponsor of the pending Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act. The legislation would direct federal agencies to collaborate with each other as well as with states, tribes, local governments and private landowners to recognize and protect wildlife corridors. It also calls for establishing a database so the various government and private entities could share information about wildlife migration.

The resolutions the counties passed Tuesday urge Congress to pass Udall's legislation. The counties are sending their resolutions to the state's entire congressional delegation.

Speaking after the Santa Fe County Commission vote, Dax said, "It's fantastic to see local support backing up with the state and our congressional delegation have already prioritized when it comes to wildlife conservation."