Hiking your favorite trail with your Congresswoman
As some of you are aware there is a battle going on to save our favorite local riding spot, Otero Canyon, from being fenced off by an Air Force Base. The closure has been threaten fro a while but things came to a head a little over a year ago. The grass roots campaign has garnered support from all levels of government, from the local, state and national level.
One of our first, and strongest supporters, has been Heather Wilson. US Congresswoman from New Mexico. With out her support and help the trail system certainly would have been closed off completely a long time ago.
Last week our group received an invitation to hike our trail system with the Congresswoman. Of course we all took vacation and meet up with her for an 8.5 mile, 4 hour hike. I hope I can impress upon you the magnitude of that feat. We were given her ear for 4 hours, alone in the woods, walking along our favorite trails.
She wanted to see for herself the area that her constituents so dearly loved. Also, she wanted to gain some perspective on the fencing situation and make the location of the fence more personal than just a line on a flat map.
With the record rain fall this past weekend (2.3” in 24 hours, our annual total is only 8.9”) we were afraid the trails would be a mud pit. We were lucky again, the clouds parted and we enjoyed a lovely partly cloudy hike, with only a few muddy sections.
We had a few goals. More feelings and thoughts that we all wanted Heather to come away with after the hike. We showed her the boundaries and the ridgeline trail that could be saved IF the base placed the fence in a logical location. We showed her the vastness of the Otero Canyon area. And how far removed the trails actually are with respect to the activities of the base.
Timo (Matt) was even able to work in the mountain biker’s perspective on the Wilderness issue, hopefully, personalizing this issue for her as well.
The notion that political figures are just that “figures on the TV” used to be a very real thought of mine, but after the days hike I had the pleasure to meet at least on real political figure you is a very down to earth person.
I feel confident that the hike today will have a profound impact on saving the Otero Canyon trail system.
To all over you out there involved in local advocacy, don’t overlook you Representative government. Send them letters or phone calls. Personal requests for help can go a long ways to helping your cause.
well done to all of you Brian. As MTB'ers, we need to become more active in the campaign to keep existing trails open. Once they are gone that's it!
Dude, that is SOOOOO freaking cool.
I don't know if people understand what a HUGE deal that is.
It was a great experience
I can't wait to see how much good it will do our cause.
Even more so in NM, since...
we only have 3 US representatives, and thus they're held in about the same regard as our two Senators. One other thing that Brian didn't mention is that Rep. Wilson is retired USAF, so her advocacy should mean more to the base commander than a "normal" member of congress. Thanks Brian!
Right on! This is the way to go. Contact local and federal officials and get them to see your concerns first hand. Such efforts seem abstract at first, but they can make a huge difference.
That's an excellent post, very informative and thought provoking.
that's so awesome
That's really inspiring. Sometime I feel so disconnected from our govn. and this makes me realize it's not always a lost cause.
Womanhood ain't for sissies.- oldbroad
What's the local Air Force base? Is the trail actually on the federal reserve, or is it just nearby or on state land?
There is actually a reason we've been extending the perimeter around military air bases and closing them to the public. You used to be able to go right underneath the landing pattern at some of the largest installations. Thousands of acres that used to be open are now closed - for credible threat and cause. Unfortunately, the world is full of jerks right now who'd really love to shoot down a few airplanes, and they have the means to do it.
Good luck, I hope your trail stays open because it looks like great riding, but understand that your fight may not work out as you hope. Looks like you have at least one good Representative that's not just giving you lip service though. Don't think mine would survive a four hour hike anywhere...
Before you get a flip answer to you post....
follow the link at the bottom my email for Save Otero. You see that your post could be miss interpreted.
You'll see that we are attempting to work with the base (Kirtland AFB) and totally agree that a fence is needed. we simply question the location of the fence. The land in question is Withdrawal land that was removed from public use during WWII. The Air Force gained the land from the Navy, who got it from the Army. However they have not used this remote section of the WD nor have inforced the boundary. Over the past 30 years an extensive trail system has developed in the extreme eastern edge of the WD land. The trail system contains over 50 miles of single track and Fire road, about 30 of these are in the WD. The area of trails is on approximatly 2000 acers of the over 22,000 acer WD. The WD start to the east of the BASE proper.
In the post 9/11 US, money became availabe for the fencing project. The inital placement of the fence was completely off base. A fact the Rep. Wilson helped come to light and gain an extension of the public comment period for the "Draft EA". As a result the base has altered the fence location. However they are still taking a "straight line on a map" and "path of least resistance" approach. Hopefully a vialble "win win" compromise can be facilitated by Rep. Wilson (and other political support) between the base and the public that use the land.
Again way more to this issue than I can relate in a simple message board post. Hope this clears this issue up at least a little.
Last edited by brianc; 04-07-2004 at 09:14 PM.
Reason: why the heck did result turn into re****
Very good to see Rep. Wilson out with the folks she represents. I hope this leads to greater pressure on the base to respond (positively) to the community.
BTW - Great (Political) Action Shots!
Go FOO Riders!
Roger, no problem. I was just trying to put in a good word for the dark side If there's really no dire force protection need, then a Congressional Inquiry from your Representative should do the trick and move the fenceline back. I'm just saying there may be some need that's not publicly known - but then they'll be upfront with her about it. A Congressman asking questions has a strong tendency to make things happen, good or bad!
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