Testimonials Supporting Columbine Hondo Wilderness

Lupe Archuleta (Desmontes, NM): Livestock Permittee of the Columbine Hondo

"As my husband used to say, 'Land is not being manufactured. Once you lose a special land it is gone forever.' My husband and I ran livestock in the Columbine Hondo wilderness for over thirty years. This was a family effort with our children and grandchildren. This experience taught my offspring a deep love for nature. The Columbine Hondo is our community's heritage. Nowadays, there is a never ending push to develop land. We must act now so this wilderness will be there for future generations."

Larry Sanchez (Questa, NM): Taos County Commissioner, Vietnam Veteran

"I am a resident of Questa, New Mexico and a Vietnam Era Veteran which I volunteered for after high school. I was appointed by Governor Bill Richardson to serve out a 10 month term for a Commissioner who resigned due to health reasons. I then ran for office and was reelected.

Today I welcome our own United States Senators Mr. Tom Udall, Mr. Martin Heinrich, Congressmen Mr. Ben Ray Lujan to our beautiful Northern New Mexico, Taos County. I ask your support for protection of Hondo Columbine Wilderness on behalf of our military personal who without their sacrifice we couldn’t enjoy this beautiful landscape for cattle grazing, firewood supply, hiking, mountain biking, fishing, camping, horse riding, backpacking, hunting, and our watershed which is so important to our people who utilize this for agriculture and ranching in our area and to teach our grandchildren the importance of keeping our culture alive and well and restoring for our grandkids kids.

And in closing a moment of silence: For our Veterans and our own Ben Lujan Sr. and other elected officials who have passed on but worke"

Doug Bridgers (Arroyo Seco, NM):

"We all know
que agua es vida
, water is life. We can’t grow our crops, feed our livestock or survive without water. And here in Taos County, the bulk of our water is received from the mountain tops where it is captured from the sky in the form of snow and rain. If we don’t protect the wild high mountain watersheds of our backyard, we won’t have an abundance of clean fresh water. One of the most productive watersheds in New Mexico is the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Study Area. Protect it now for future generations. Establish Columbine-Hondo as wilderness."

Roberta Salazar (Arroyo Seco, NM): Executive Director of Rivers & Birds

"With human technology we have quickly lost most wilderness in New Mexico to human development and fragmentation. Tomorrow’s children won’t have opportunities for the rich experiences with nature as we have had, unless we work to protect our few remaining key wilderness areas. Here in Taos County, in our own backyard, the Columbine-Hondo is one of those rare wilderness treasures that remains intact. Let’s protect it now so that future generations can know and love it as we do."

Peggy Nelson (San Cristobal, NM): Former Judicial District Judge, Board President, Amigos Bravos

"Wilderness is one constant that lets, and makes, us reflect on our place in the grand order of the universe. To be in wilderness, in solitude, invisibly surrounded by all manner of wildlife, or to simply know that it exists out there, somewhere, is fundamental to my wellbeing."

Claire Cote (Questa, NM): Localogy

"I remember, as a child, when I first grasped my good fortune of being able to walk out my door and into designated wilderness. Recently I returned to New Mexico with a deeper appreciation for wilderness after spending time in England. In England I often visited Dartmoor National Park, which offered a taste of the open land and sky that I missed from home. An icon of the National Wilderness deficit, even this protected moorland was scattered with farmhouses, ancient human settlements, rock walls, roads and timber extraction. In the United States we still have an abundance of beautiful unpopulated wild lands that can be protected. The Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Study Area with its abundant headwaters, wildlife and rare mountain tundra is such a 'wild land' in northern NM. It's up to us to have the foresight to protect it!"

Chuck Howe (NM): President, National Veterans Wellness and Healing Center

"I started a nonprofit foundation, the National Veterans Wellness and Healing Center in Angel Fire to treat veteran couples with PTSD. To date, we have successfully helped 175 couples with our seven day retreats.

Nature and its inherent therapeutic benefits are integral to all the retreats. The beauty and serenity of the wilderness provides a natural setting offering a sense of well being and connectedness to the participants and staff. Participants are out in nature watching wildlife in an environment that becomes an integral part of the therapeutic recreational experience.

Ask any veteran who has returned from a military experience and the first place they want to go to is the wilderness to relax and “get away from it all.”

Designation of this portion of alpine tundra in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains will truly benefit all veterans in Northern New Mexico, throughout the state, and the Southwest, particularly for the number of national guard soldiers that reside in the State and have been deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo multiple times.

The National Veterans Wellness and Healing Center fully support protecting the Columbine Hondo Wilderness area. Thank you."

Garrett VeneKlasen (Taos, NM): Trout Unlimited

"To us, the protection and permanent wilderness designation of the Columbine Hondo represents everything for which we stand. We believe in managing wildlife as a public trust and all native wildlife as a priceless resource. We believe in protecting the big, natural areas and natural functions that support our hunting and fishing heritage..."

Zoe Krasney (Albuquerque, NM)

"The Columbine Hondo area offers astounding opportunities for quiet recreation, with steep trails winding up 12,000 foot peaks, traversing alpine meadows and cascading streams. Located between the Latir and Wheeler Wilderness Areas, adding these 46,000+ acres of land to the National Landscape Preservation System will further protect its ecological, cultural and economic benefits to local communities and the environment. Climbing from dry sagebrush plains to the lush mountains, Columbine Hondo encompasses a healthy and precious watershed, invaluable to fish, wildlife and overall water quality in Northern New Mexico."

Esther Garcia (Questa, NM): Mayor of Questa, NM, President of San Antonio del Rio Colorado Land Grant, Board Member of the NM Wilderness Alliance

"I would like to protect Columbine Wilderness for future generations and I want to protect our watersheds for the future of our people. I support the grazing for the ranchers that have permits. I feel we must protect the common lands of the land grants and its heirs. We must protect its richness and beauty."

Rivala Garcia (Arroyo Seco, NM): 11 years old

"The Columbine Hondo area is a beautiful place. Me and my family hike there often. I love to hear the birds singing overhead as I hike along the stream. I want the area to remain protected so that the water remains clear and clean. I want to enjoy the area for many years to come. I support this area becoming a wilderness area."

Norma McCallan (Santa Fe, NM): Sierra Club

"The Columbine Hondo Wilderness Study Area in Taos County is a pristine wilderness area of high mountain areas with scenic vistas, which include unique ecological habitat. It is a major watershed providing water for the Rio Hondo and Columbine River, both tributaries of the Rio Grande as well as supplying water for the local acequias, which sustain many local communities. It is critical to protect this special area not only for the local communities but for the state of New Mexico, whose arid, high desert landscape will likely see more severe drought and fewer viable waterways as climate change increases. The Columbine Hondo WSA provides important habitat for wildlife populations. As climate changes increases, it is critical that we protect these large wild areas so that they can continue to serve as resilient habitats, without the stresses of human activities such as mining, off road vehicle degradation and fragmentation of the landscape. The Columbine Hondo WSA also provides extraordinary opportunities for recreational opportunities, which attract many visitors and play a vital role in the local economies. Without permanent protection it is likely this special landscape will see degradation, pollution, and loss of prime habitat. The mission of the Sierra Club is to explore, protect and enjoy the wild places of our earth. We strongly support efforts to pass legislation to designate the Columbine Hondo WSA as a permanent wilderness Area, thus affording it protection from any future adverse effects of development, while preserving this unique wild area for future generations.

Ermino Martinez (El Salto, NM): Columbine Hondo Grazing Permittee

"It is important that we preserve the Columbine Hondo, an important part of the Northern NM Sangre de Cristo Mountains, for its beauty, its traditional uses, its culture, and the watershed for future generations."

David Arguello, Ph.D., LISW (City, NM): President of the Arroyo Hondo Arriba Community Land Grant

"Honorable Senators Udall and Heinrich
Thank your for supporting wilderness
designation legislation.

A few words of mine
To influence
Your wilderness support of the Hondo y Columbine:

Historical Attachment and family anchors
1692: Arguello marriage in Alcalde
1862; Italianos canyon: for generations a subsistence source
For my ancestral Prando family: Papi Carlos y David, Mami Kika
No more after 1917 for Sabinita, David y Joaquin
Once the family pastured horses, cows, goats and sheep up there
Collected medicinal plants and fire wood to fight the cold
Memories ensconced in the Vigas in my ancestral home

Benefits of wilderness designation
Preservation of pristine waters
Still flowing through ancient acequias
Irrigating thousands of acres in the villages:
Valdez, Canoncito, Arroyo Hondo, Des Montes, Limon
From these waters, I grow a traditional garden
The three sisters of corn squash and beans
As much as possible from traditional seed
My orchard of apples, apricots, pears and cherries
The Columbine Hondo waters are a major tributary of the Rio Grande
A major source of water for New Mexico, Texas and Mexico

Potential social benefit of the wilderness designation:
I want to emphasize: Don’t forget
Restorative justice for land grant heirs
By including traditional usage of the land
Restorative justice is Social Justice
'…and justice for all'"

Francisco "Cisco" Guevara (Des Montes, NM): Los Rios River Runners

"Preserving wilderness protects the watershed that is the source of our rivers, which are vital to the outdoor recreation business. Outdoor recreation is a major component in tourism, which is a leading economic factor in the state of New Mexico. The outdoor recreation industry is also a major source of jobs, encompassing all businesses and services. Protecting wilderness is good for everyone."

Chris Pieper, Elana Lombard, Gwendolyn and Reed (Arroyo Seco, NM): Mudd N Flood Mountain Shop

"Mudd N Flood supports wilderness. We are committed to protecting our precious watersheds, native ecosystems, and the open spaces so important to our local economies and our collective well being. The addition of the Columbine Hondo to the wilderness system represents the gift that keeps giving. Taos is increasingly becoming a destination for people that desire access to the wilderness as a retreat from their busy urban lives."

Andy Romero (Arroyo Hondo, NM):

"If we do not permanently protect this wilderness now there is a good chance that in the near future corporate America will find use of it and this pristine wilderness will be destroyed. The Columbine Hondo has been a rich part of our heritage here. I have hunted in Taos County, including in the Columbine Hondo, for over 50 years. I have ridden horses in this wilderness for over 35 years. Today my two sons and my granddaughters enjoy riding horses in the Columbine Hondo wilderness area as well. When I was a child, people drank from all the rivers near Taos. Now the Columbine Hondo has the only drink-able streams left. Let’s act now to honor this wilderness for future generations."

Noah Pettus (DesMontes, NM): Aceq Restaurant in Arroyo Seco

"Growing up in Arroyo Hondo, the Columbine Hondo wilderness area was extraordinary backyard to my family. We spent many times horseback riding and hiking in these mountains. These were rich experiences which I have treasured immensely. I feel it is important now to protect this land for future generations of our community. I hope to share these same activities with my son Luke as he grows up. My wife and I now own a restaurant in Arroyo Seco and as business people, we feel the unique beauty of the Columbine Hondo wilderness is an attraction for travelers from around the world and is an asset for our local economy."

Taylor and Nick Streit (Taos, NM): Streit Fly Fishing

"Snows from the high peaks of New Mexico are the source of many great trout waters. Protecting them should be the goal for all of us who live and play downstream. Support Columbine Hondo Wilderness!"

Sean Cassily (Taos, NM): Taos Cycling Coaltion

"This bicycle friendly bill is great for New Mexico in that it protects the land and creates important recreation assets for the Taos community. This makes a difference in terms of quality of life for those of us who live here, while also attracting additional summer visitation which has become more and more important around the West."