Support Wild & Scenic designation

By State Representative Rudy Martinez | Silver City Daily Press
September 6, 2019

Dear Editor,

I am encouraged to hear that the Grant County Commission plans to vote on a resolution that would express the county’s support for a Wild and Scenic designation for segments of the Gila River at the commission’s next meeting.

Designating the Gila as a Wild and Scenic River would provide many benefits to Grant County residents. Created by the United States Congress more than 50 years ago, the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System safeguards the special characteristics of some of the nation’s most beloved and iconic rivers. The system sets these rivers aside, protecting them in their free-flowing condition for the sake of current and future generations of Americans.

A growing number of business owners, property owners, tribes, sportsmen and women, faith leaders, civic organizations, and others in Grant County and the surrounding area are calling upon Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich to introduce legislation designating more than 400 miles of the Gila and San Francisco rivers and their main tributaries as Wild and Scenic. Count me among those local community members who support this proposed legislation.

The Gila River is a popular recreational destination for locals and tourists alike. With its headwaters nestled in the Gila Wilderness, the Gila River provides countless opportunities for those seeking to hunt, fish, hike, camp, picnic, or simply get away from the stresses of everyday life.

A Wild and Scenic designation would allow those activities to continue for generations, guaranteeing a permanent customer base for outfitters, hotels, restaurants, and other businesses in Grant County that provide services to those visiting the Gila River from all over the world.

As someone who voted for the creation of a division of outdoor recreation during the 2019 legislative session, I believe we have a responsibility to help boost our active and growing outdoor economy. We can do exactly that by supporting Wild and Scenic designation.

But protecting the Gila River through Wild and Scenic legislation goes beyond economics. The Gila River is a part of our shared identity in southwestern New Mexico. Many of our families have lived in this area for multiple generations, passing our profound respect for our land, water, and other natural resources down to each succeeding generation. In an ever-changing world, this is a tradition worth preserving.

This letter to the editor originally appeared in the Silver City Daily-Press.