$3 Million Conservation Agreement will Unlock Public Access to the Sabinoso Wilderness in New Mexico
The Wilderness Land Trust and the Wyss Foundation today announced a major milestone in the effort to unlock public access to the 16,000 acre Sabinoso Wilderness in New Mexico, an area that is currently impossible for the public to access without trespassing on private property.
(credit: Claire Haughey)
Thanks to a $3,150,000 contribution from the Wyss Foundation, The Wilderness Land Trust has purchased the Rimrock Rose, a 4,176 acre property adjacent to the Sabinoso Wilderness that includes the remote and beautiful Canyon Largo. The Wilderness Land Trust will now work to transfer the Rimrock Rose to public ownership by donating it to the Bureau of Land Management so that it may be added to the Sabinoso Wilderness area to create public access.
“We’ve been working on creating access to the Sabinoso Wilderness since it was proposed for designation,” said Reid Haughey, President of The Wilderness Land Trust. “To the best of our knowledge, Sabinoso is the only wilderness area among the 762 wilderness areas within the National Wilderness Preservation System that does not have public access. It will be a pleasure to unlock the Sabinoso this summer. It’s a great place to hike, hunt, ride horseback, explore and backpack.”
The Sabinoso Wilderness, created by Congress in 2009, is a rugged backcountry area east of Las Vegas, New Mexico, that is home to mule deer, bobcats, gray foxes and a wide range of plant and animal species that are home to the high plains. The headwaters of the Canadian River runs through the Rimrock Rose property and the Canyon Largo, then on past the designated wilderness. Canyon Largo was a well-traveled route used by cavalry traveling from Fort Union to Fort Bascom in the 19th century, and by native people for centuries before patented as private land a hundred years ago.
“We are proud to be able to help local leaders and The Wilderness Land Trust as they expand access for fishing, hunting, hiking, and recreation in New Mexico’s prized backcountry,” said Molly McUsic, President of the Wyss Foundation. “Everyone should have the opportunity to experience the wonder of the Sabinoso Wilderness and all of our nation’s public lands.”
Over the coming months, The Wilderness Land Trust will work with the Bureau of Land Management to donate the lands to public ownership so that the public may explore one of New Mexico’s newest and most stunning wilderness areas. Before the lands may be donated to public ownership, the Bureau of Land Management will need to conduct and complete a review of the areas to determine whether they are suitable for addition to the Sabinoso Wilderness and meet the agency’s criteria for accepting a donation.
“Acquisition of permanent access to Sabinoso is huge for New Mexican sportsmen and women as well as all our citizenry,” said Garrett VeneKlasen, executive director of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. “This is a magical, game-filled landscape we’ve all been aching to use but until now could not utilize. Three cheers to the Wyss Foundation and The Wilderness Land Trust for making this dream become reality!”
Founded in 1998, the Wyss Foundation has long supported locally-led efforts to conserve public lands in the American West for everyone to experience and explore. The Foundation’s philanthropy has helped conserve and restore public lands from the Crown of the Continent in Montana and the Hoback Basin in Wyoming to the coastline of California and the rivers of Maine.
The Wilderness Land Trust is a small, highly specialized nonprofit organization established to buy and protect wilderness land. Since founded in 1992, the Trust has preserved 432 parcels comprising more than 47,000 acres of wilderness inholdings in 93 designated and proposed wilderness areas across 9 states. The Wilderness Land Trust, a 501(c)(3) organization, has offices in California and Colorado. For more information visit our website www.wildernesslandtrust.org.