U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury released a statement Monday following an announcement by the Department of the Interior that it would use administrative authority to protect more than 4,000 acres near Placitas from mining in Sandoval County.

The proposed administrative withdrawal would safeguard tribal lands, support ecological and wildlife connectivity and boost local recreation opportunities. It would also prevent new mining claims and oil and gas development in the area for 50 years.

Stansbury, who represents New Mexico’s First District, has led on the introduction of the Buffalo Tract Protection Act in the U.S. House of Representatives, which would protect the Buffalo Tract and the Crest of Montezuma by withdrawing four parcels of Bureau of Land Management land from all forms of mineral development. Sen. Martin Heinrich is leading the legislation in the U.S. Senate in partnership with Sen. Ben Ray Lujan.

“Today’s announcement is a crucial and long-awaited step in safeguarding the sacred lands and wildlife of our communities, especially in this critical corridor connecting the Sandia Mountains through Las Huertas and Placitas to the communities of the Rio Grande Valley,” Stansbury said. “I want to thank my dear friend, Secretary (Deb) Haaland, and President (Joe) Biden for their efforts to protect these 4,000-plus acres in Sandoval County. I am grateful that the voices of our Pueblo communities, Placitas residents and local stakeholders have been centered in this decision. In Congress, I am proud to join Senator Heinrich in leading legislative efforts to permanently protect these important and ancestral lands.”