Wild and Scenic River legislation introduced

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Photo: Wick Beavers

Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich announced this morning introduction of the M.H. “Dutch” Salmon Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to protect segments of the Gila and San Francisco rivers as Wild and Scenic.

The Gila Conservation Coalition thanks Senators Udall and Heinrich for their leadership and dedication to long-term protection of New Mexico’s last wild river.

And thank you for your support for the Wild and Scenic bill. This legislation is possible due to the broad base of support for protection of the Gila from community members, Tribes, sportsmen and women, veterans, small business owners, faith and civic organizations, local municipalities and governments, and outdoor recreation and conservation organizations.

The M.H. “Dutch” Salmon Greater Gila Wild and Scenic Rivers Act is named after Gila Conservation Coalition chairman Dutch Salmon who worked for more than three decades to protect the free flow of the Gila and San Francisco rivers, defeating the ill-conceived Conner Dam and Mangas diversion proposals of the 1980s, successors to the failed Hooker Dam.

This is a wonderful tribute to Dutch’s legacy as a tireless advocate for protection of these rivers.

The Gila and San Francisco and their tributaries make up one of the largest undammed watersheds in the Lower 48 states. Their natural flows support seven threatened and endangered species, such as the loach minnow and spike dace, some of the last intact cottonwood-sycamore bosque in the Lower Colorado River Basin, and more than 350 species of birds. The Gila is the centerpiece of the local outdoor recreation economy and its clean waters provide farmers with water for irrigation.

This legislation comes out of a community-led proposal and protects 446 miles of the Gila and San Francisco as Wild and Scenic Rivers, ensuring that these reaches continue to provide for traditional and current use of the rivers, critical wildlife habitat, and our outdoor recreation economy.

Let the Senators know you support this legislation and encourage them to move it forward through Congress.

And thank you for your support for this proposal without which this legislation would not be possible.

Please join us in celebrating Dutch’s legacy and thanking Senators Udall and Heinrich for their leadership and encourage them as they move this bill through Congress.