The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Cyndi Tuell, (520) 623-5262 x 308

New Mexico Off-roaders Plan Law-breaking Ride in Pecos Wilderness


Off-roaders this week publicly announced plans to drive their off-road vehicles through the Pecos Wilderness on Saturday, Nov. 3 in flagrant and destructive violation of the Wilderness Act and other laws. The pristine wilderness area is home to scores of wildlife species, including one of New Mexico's most important populations of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. The Center for Biological Diversity has notified state and federal officials of those plans and urged them to increase law enforcement and protect the Pecos Wilderness from illegal off-road vehicle incursion.

"For off-roaders to feel so comfortable making public plans for an illegal ride shows that the Forest Service needs to step up its enforcement game," said the Center's Cyndi Tuell. "Rules governing wilderness areas have been in place since 1964. There can be no mistake, nearly 50 years later, that these areas are meant to be protected from the ravages of off-road vehicle users -- including those who callously flout the laws of our public lands."

The off-roaders plan to cross the wilderness as part of a 60-mile ride, prohibited by 1964's Wilderness Act. The Forest Service and New Mexico Game and Fish Department have indicated that law enforcement will be present for the ride.

"We are pleased to see the Forest Service and Game and Fish officers plan to ensure that this special place will be protected," said George Nickas, executive director of Wilderness Watch. "Those who seek to violate wilderness with motor vehicles aren't just breaking the law, they're trampling on the will of the majority of New Mexicans and other Americans."

At more than 200,000 acres, the Pecos is New Mexico's second largest wilderness area. Encompassing Truchas Peak and Santa Fe Baldy -- two of the state's highest points -- it is treasured by hikers and wildlife watchers for its wild and quiet nature. The Pecos also harbors one of the state's healthiest populations of rare Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep.

"It's no coincidence that we find healthy wildlife populations in wilderness areas," said Tuell. "Creatures thrive when we protect where they live."

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.

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