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Organ Mountain Wilderness Bill
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By Karl Kiser
Sep 18, 2009

Contact the offices of New Mexico Senators Bingaman and Udall. A bill to preserve the Organ Mountains has been introduced and needs the support of the rock climbing community.


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By climber pat
From Las Cruces, NM
Sep 19, 2009

The Organ Mountains are managed by the BLM as a wilderness study area. Wilderness protection for these mountains is an excellent idea. I will be writing letter to my senator in AZ asking them to support this bill.


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By Jason Halladay
Administrator
From Los Alamos, NM
Sep 19, 2009
Climbing at the Belvedere crag near Nago with a great view of the northern end of Lake Garda and the town of Torbole sul Garda below. June 2013.

Here's some more information along with a form for sending a letter of support to Senators Bingaman and Udall. There's also more information about the act here.


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By J. Albers
From Colorado
Sep 19, 2009
Bucky

Thanks for bringing this up Karl. Question though....do you think that feedback only from NM residents matters? I ask because, technically, the Senators are only supposed to be looking out for the interests of their constituents.


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By Karl Kiser
Oct 2, 2009

Thanks for the comments, I did not provide enough context in the first message.

The Organ Mountains are a public treasure and comments to all US Senators is appropriate. The mountains have been in WSA (BLM-wilderness study area) status since the 70s but this is the first time a bill made it to the legislative chamber.

Opposition is expected and we need to help counter it! The New Mexico delegation is 100% Democratic presently and the opportunity to provide permanent protection for the mountains must be seized.


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By Gary Parker
Oct 3, 2009

I lived in Las Cruces throughout the 90's and love the Organ mountains. They should definitely be preserved. However, I am not a fan of Wilderness Protection. It is the most restrictive form of protection and I hope that other forms are considered instead. For example, National Scenic Areas are protected, but still allow a sensible level of recreation.

Keep in mind, the Wilderness Act prevents any 'permanent installations'. There have been controversial interpretations of these words in the past decade that have considered bolts and rappel slings to be permanent installations. That, of course would be bad for our community.

I also mountain bike and hope that someday mountain biking trails will be built along the rugged foothills. Wilderness would dash those hopes too.

Sadly, cattle ranching would still be permitted.


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By Karl Kiser
Oct 9, 2009

I believe Mr. Parker has let his recreational fears and interests color his views on the Organ Mountains. The mountains deserve maximum protection and are likely to receive far less protection if the wilderness bill does not pass. The wilderness bill is the better designation.

There has been no legal determination that bolts in wilderness areas constitute a "permanent installation". While such a determination may be possible it is unlikely. What is likely is a ban on motorized drilling which actually takes care of the majority of the bolting issues. Hand drilling is a lot of work and most will not do it.

Also, there are ample opportunities to mountain bike (I mountain bike) within the proposed national conservation areas. One does not need to bike in the Organ Mountain foothills east of the road which parallels the mountains on the west side.


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By Anthony Stout
Administrator
From Albuquerque, NM
Oct 9, 2009
Whipping on Goliath

I fully agree that wilderness designation is the best option for this area. If it is currently designated as a Wilderness Study Area (which I believe it is) than indeed mountain biking is currently not allowed. I appreciate that the recreational areas in the foothills of the Sandias have great mountain biking trails. Ditto for the bolting - if it is already wilderness study area than it has had the same protection as if it were currently designated wilderness, and already, motorized drilling is not allowed.

I might remind you that nearly all the climbs within the Sandia Mountains are in the Sandia Mountain Wilderness area - this has hardly prevented people from establishing routes in this area. In fact, there has been a recent increase in route setting in this area. To the best of my knowledge all the route setters are hand drilling bolts (Beverly has put up many bolts in the area).

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but as it is currently designated as a WSA, I don't believe that wilderness designation in the Organ Mountains will do much to change the current restrictions. I also think it will have little effect on the climbing in the area. But it will keep the area protected and intact for generations to come.


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