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NM Senators Introduce Wild and Scenic River Legislation - Help us thank them!

Posted: 05/12/2020
By: Kestrel Kunz

We are celebrating a great win today after New Mexico Senators Udall and Heinrich announced the introduction of the M.H. Dutch Salmon Greater Gila Wild and Scenic River Act. The Act, officially introduced on May 8, would protect over 440 miles of free-flowing rivers and streams in the Gila and San Francisco watersheds. Please help us thank the Senators for their commitment to protect these rivers by filling out this super easy form! 

This win comes after years of hard work and dedication from local stakeholders and has monumental grassroots support. Our partners at the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance meticulously documented the free-flowing attributes and Outstandingly Remarkable Values on hundreds of river miles to inform this legislation and a coalition of recreationists, conservationists, landowners, and numerous others worked for years to build grassroots support that has culminated in this legislation. 

If passed, the Gila and San Francisco Rivers and their tributaries would receive permanent protection under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act - the strongest protection a river can receive. While the Gila legislation gives flexibility to existing uses and landowners, the free-flowing nature and outstanding values of these rivers and streams would be protected now and for future generations to enjoy. The main stem Gila and San Francisco Rivers offer some of the most remote and wild paddling opportunities in New Mexico and have been explored and loved by paddlers for decades. 

The legislation is named after a local river conservationist and author that dedicated much of his life to protecting the Gila River. M.H. Salmon, known as Dutch, was a paddler, fisherman, and homesteader living in Silver City, NM. Salmon authored 10 books about the Gila Wilderness, including Gila Descending, which chronicles his 200 mile canoe descent of the Gila River from the headwaters in New Mexico to Arizona. M.H. "Dutch" Salmon passed away last year at the age of 73 and the Senators have truly honored his legacy by dedicating the Act to Dutch and his efforts to protect the Gila. 

The success of this campaign wouldn't be possible without the support of our dedicated members. With guidance from AW, hundreds of paddlers petitioned the Senators to introduce legislation and many commented in support of the draft legislation that was released in February. While introduction comes as a great win, there is still lots of work to do to ensure that the legislation is passed through Congress - and we need your help! To start, please join us in thanking the Senators for their dedication to protect the Gila and San Francisco watersheds and ask them to fight hard for this bill as it moves through Congress! 

Kestrel Kunz

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