The first time I came to New Mexico was in 2013, and I fell head over heels in love with it.
A year later, I moved here; it was the mountains, the blue skies, the endless trails for hiking and public lands for camping. I understand why it is the Land of Enchantment and we must protect it.
Public lands — spaces that protect the health of people, wildlife and the planet — are disappearing. Every year in the United States, we lose a million acres of nature to development.
With the existential threat of climate change and 1 million species at risk of extinction around the world, we need decisive action now. Thankfully, former N.M. Sen. Tom Udall and now-Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland committed to leading the national effort to protect 30 percent of lands and waters by 2030, an effort known as 30×30.
We have a treasure here, and New Mexico has the opportunity to set an example for the rest of the country in championing this initiative.
The people of our state support this initiative. A poll, the 2021 Conservation in the West, found that 77 percent of people in our state support 30×30.
There is so much we can do to protect our Land of Enchantment. Federal agencies, like the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management, and state agencies can start by identifying lands for wildlife management areas, state and local parks, and implement restoration programs to bring lands back to their natural, thriving state. Our delegation can continue to fight to permanently protect the Great Chaco landscape and surrounding communities.
The Biden administration can also make the current pause on new oil and gas drilling on public lands permanent.
All of these efforts will be key to delivering the 30×30 goal on state and national levels. This is our moment to develop the sustainable and just solutions necessary to stop climate change, slow the extinction and reverse damage to our public lands and waters.
Letter to the Observer: Land of Enchantment needs protection