Commentary: New Mexico Wild is calling on members of the public to help document the federal government shutdown’s impact on the conditions on New Mexico’s public lands and wild places. Additionally, New Mexico Wild has launched a government shutdown website the public can use as a resource to stay up-to-date on how the shutdown is affecting New Mexico’s public lands.
“The public servants who manage our public lands are being told not to go to work, so we’re taking things into our own hands by asking other outdoor enthusiasts to help us keep New Mexicans informed,” said Mark Allison, Executive Director of New Mexico Wild. “This irresponsible shutdown could have far-reaching implications for our land and resources if it drags on much longer. It’s time for the Trump administration to put an end to this nonsense and return our public lands to the appropriate management and staffing levels.”
Individuals are encouraged to post photos and updates on public lands they visit to social media using the hashtag #OpenNMLands. The posts should also tag @nmwilderness on Facebook and Instagram and @nmwild on Twitter. New Mexico Wild will use the images and testimonies submitted to update the public on the conditions of public lands throughout the shutdown. Individuals who do not use social media may email their photos and stories to email@example.com.
The website New Mexico Wild has launched contains a list of public lands that are wholly or partially closed during the shutdown, which will be updated as more information is gathered. The website also includes economic data on New Mexico’s public lands and a petition calling on the Trump administration to end the shutdown. As part of today’s announcement, New Mexico Wild is also offering federal government employees who have been furloughed due to the shutdown a free, one-year membership to New Mexico Wild.
Some public lands in New Mexico remain open during the shutdown, yet those that are managed by federal agencies such as the National Parks Service and the Bureau of Land Management are severely understaffed due to employee furloughs, meaning the agencies cannot provide the usual level of service and oversight.
“Federal employees are dedicated public servants and they deserve our respect and support,” said Mark Allison.
Meanwhile, according to a report by the Washington Post, the BLM continues to process oil and gas leases on public lands during the shutdown. However, BLM is not responding to public records requests due to the shutdown.
A recent study determined that New Mexico has been hit harder by the federal government shutdown than any other state. The shutdown is particularly problematic for the state’s outdoor recreation economy, which generates $9.9 billion in consumer spending annually and directly employs 99,000 New Mexicans.
ABOUT THE NEW MEXICO WILDERNESS ALLIANCE: The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance or “New Mexico Wild” is a non-profit 501 (C)(3), independent, homegrown, grassroots, conservation organization dedicated to the protection, restoration and continued respect of New Mexico’s wildlands and Wilderness areas. With staff and thousands of supporters throughout the state, New Mexico Wild is dedicated to the rights and the value of citizen involvement in protecting increasingly rare wild places within public lands. Just as freedom is every American’s birthright so too is Wilderness.