Explore Caja del Rio 

Mar 1, 2023

The Center for Western Priorities is excited to share the latest film in our Road to 30: Postcards series about the Caja del Rio plateau in northern New Mexico

The Caja del Rio plateau is one of the most ecologically rich and culturally significant landscapes in the Southwest. Covering nearly 107,000 acres between the Rio Grande and Santa Fe rivers, the area acts as an important wildlife corridor and safe haven from wildfire and other climate disturbances for many species of mammals, birds, and reptiles. Since time immemorial, many Indigenous cultures have maintained a strong connection to the area’s land, water, and wildlife, and it is still regarded as sacred to many Pueblo people today.

This beautiful and important landscape is threatened by vandalism, illegal dumping, and target shooting, as well as inadequate protections for the wildlife that depend on the area for survival. Permanent protection is needed to ensure this sacred place maintains its ecological and spiritual vitality for the benefit of human and wildlife communities for generations to come. The 2023 Colorado College Conservation in the West poll results show that 88 percent of New Mexico voters want to designate existing public lands in the Caja del Rio plateau as a national conservation area.

Watch the 5-minute film to hear from people who know this region intimately, including Brophy Toledo, a member of the Jemez Pueblo (Walatowa) and co-founder of the Flower Hill Institute, José Villegas Sr, a Catholic chaplain and Mayordomo of the Valle de la Cieneguilla Land Grant, and Andrew Black, a minister at First Presbyterian Church of Santa Fe and the public lands field director for the National Wildlife Federation.

After record profits, House panel considers massive taxpayer giveaway to oil and gas companies

The Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing yesterday on the “Transparency and Production of American Energy Act of 2023.” This draft bill proposes, among other things, to reverse many of the Inflation Reduction Act’s reforms to the onshore oil and gas leasing program. The bill would return royalty rates, minimum bids, and rental rates to the outdated rates that were put in place in 1920; eliminate the fees companies pay to nominate land for leasing; and restore noncompetitive leasing, letting companies lock up public land for just $1.50 an acre. The bill would also grant an oil industry wish list of exemptions from the environmental analysis requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act. “These companies don’t need Congress to force more lease sales or permit approvals,” said Rachael Hamby, Policy Director at Center for Western Priorities. “They need to pay their fair share for exploiting public resources and compensate Americans for tying up millions of acres of public lands in unused leases.”

Quick hits

House panel considers massive taxpayer giveaway to oil and gas companies

E&E News | Center for Western Priorities [press release]

Oil and gas operator K.P. Kauffman violated state order to stop selling its oil and gas

Colorado Sun

Colorado lawmakers pitch $60B wildfire mitigation and restoration bill

E&E News | Colorado Sun

New Mexico bill seeks to require legislative approval for large land acquisitions

NM Political Report

Federal grazing fee to stay at lowest allowable level

Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

Border plant listed as endangered despite Texas AG’s objections

E&E News | Courthouse News Service | KSAT

Is the drought over?

Los Angeles Times

The new West, by the numbers

Deseret News

Quote of the day

he basic philosophy of westward expansion has been, ‘Look, there’s an unspoiled area—let’s go spoil it. It’s uncrowded—so let’s make it crowded. It’s clean—well, let’s go make it dirty. There’s no traffic—let’s increase the traffic.’”

—Dan McCool, University of Utah professor, Deseret News

Picture this

sandhill crane

Did you know….Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is located on the ancestral homelands of the Sandhill cranes are starting to make their way toward summer breeding grounds. Have you seen any lately? This one was spotted over northern Illinois.

📸 courtesy of Gordon Garcia