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09/05/2012

A Community Gathers to Protect the Rio Grande del Norte

Imagine a deep canyon of 200 feet dropping down to the Rio Grande, a river that is the lifeblood of New Mexico. Imagine this stretch of wild and scenic waters, which serve as a crucial flyway for migrating birds such as ospreys, hummingbirds and herons. Above the gorge eagles and falcons nest in the cliffs, and stretches of sagebrush give way to snow capped mountains.

This beautiful landscape is iconic in New Mexico - almost every northern New Mexican has visited the Gorge to gasp in its immensity (and people across the nation saw it as part of an epic fight scene in the Terminator 2 movie). The river and surrounding land also hosts recreation from river rafting to back country hunting. Stretches of the river within the proposed protected area, such as the Razorblades, offer some of the most challenging kayak runs in New Mexico while areas like Ute Mountain provide opportunities for outstanding views of wildlife. However, as development spreads across the landscape this area is in danger of becoming yet another neighborhood. While one side of the Rio Grande Gorge is protected, the other could be lined with houses in the future.

Rio Grande del Norte gatheringOver 40 people gathered at the home of Allegra Huston and Cisco Guevara, owners of Los Rios River Runners,  to celebrate the Rio Grande del Norte and to learn about how to permantely protect this special landscape. Over locally-made tamales and black bean quesadillas Cisco talked about the campaign and how initially he was reluctant to get involved. However, as he met coalition partners, he started to see how this campaign brought diverse groups together. As a river outfitter, he now is one of the most vocal advocates of the campaign, even traveling to Washington, D.C. during Great Outdoors America week to speak for the Rio Grande del Norte. He and coalition partners emphasize the importance of recreation to the economy in Taos and throughout New Mexico.

Join our coalition! Sign the petition to protect the Rio Grande del Norte.

Also, be sure to look through the '100 Portraits Book: One Hundred New Mexicans Speak for a Legacy', a book advocating for the protection of the Rio Grande del Norte.

-- by Eliza Kretzmann, New Mexico

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