|U.S. Senator Tom Udall shares the victory aqui in Taos.|
|Cisco Guevara, river runner, congratulates Taoseños.|
Individuals who make their living along the river also had a chance to express their gratitude. Cisco Guevara, called by The Taos News, “the poster child” for conservationists, is a sturdy man with a white beard who wears a big floppy hat. Udall introduced him as a man whose roots in the community go back 400 years. Guevara says that he listens to the water day after day, and “the water is thirsty.” He should know. As one of the owners of Los Rios River Runners, he spends most of his days rafting in the Rio Grande Gorge, so he is well aware of problems with the flow of the Rio Grande due to growing demands for water and drought in New Mexico.
The proposal for the National Monument was designed to protect a quarter of a million remote acres in Taos and Rio Arriba counties. When Congress gridlocked over the bill, Senator Udall, retired Senator Bingaman, Representative Ben Ray Lujan and Senator-elect Martin Heinrich urged President Obama to use his special powers to make the designation under the Antiquity Act.
Udall said, “Taos is usually contentious, but on this issue, everyone united.” He was happy to see a diversity of cultures represented in the audience and joined in the prayer offered by War Chief Samuel Gomez from Taos Pueblo. Traditional uses such as woodcutting and grazing and already established mining will be allowed to continue, but no new roads may be built within the area and no future growth will be allowed on public lands. According to the Albuquerque Journal, “ . . . monument designation will ensure that development such as oil and gas or mining will not occur.”
Thanks, +President Obama!