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IMBA Supports Reintroduced Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Act in New Mexico

For Immediate Release 4-24-2013
Contact Mark Eller
IMBA Communications Director
303-545-9011 ext. 115

IMBA and local mountain bike advocates in New Mexico fully endorse the reintroduction of the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Act (S.776), which was originally introduced by Senator Bingaman (D-NM, now retired), then reintroduced by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) with cosponsorship by Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM). The proposal has been crafted to permanently protect 45,000 acres of national forest land while restoring mountain bike access to important trails in the Carson National Forest, such as the Lost Lake trail from Taos Ski Valley and the East Fork trail to Red River.

“This bill benefits multiple stakeholders,” said Aaron Clark, the director of IMBA’s Public Lands Initiative. “First, it resolves a 45,000-acre Wilderness Study Area and brings certainty about how those lands will be managed. Second, by using the Lost Lake Trail as the boundary of the Wheeler Peak Wilderness, the bill will help open a 20-mile, pristine, high-alpine singletrack mountain bike loop. Third, it increases the acreage of the existing Wheeler Peak Wilderness.”

"This bill permanently protects the National Forest for both current and future generations," said Doug Picket, owner of Taos Cyclery. "The mountain bike community is excited about this opportunity to support it and extend our role as good stewards of the forest. The opportunity to create a trail system adjacent to this newly designated wilderness area will have a positive impact on both tourism and the economy in this rural area of northern New Mexico."

Mountain bike groups joined conservation-minded organizations, including the Columbine Hondo Wilderness Coalition, to help shape the proposal. Roberta Salazar, Executive Director of Rivers and Birds and Columbine Hondo Coalition Member, said, “Through respectful and open dialogue, the conservation and mountain bike communities reached a win-win solution that has resulted in universal support in Taos for this important bill."

Numerous meetings and conversations with the former Senator led to the identification of mountain bike trails that could be impacted by Wilderness designations. IMBA and the greater mountain bike community greatly appreciates the concerted effort made by New Mexico’s Congressional delegation for including IMBA and local mountain biking interests in the development of this proposal. “There has been a genuine effort to address trail access issues in the proposal,” said Clark. “The final outcome should be positive for all parties.”

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