The introduction of Gila Wild and Scenic legislation last week makes me proud to be an outdoor educator and a New Mexican. This bill signifies that our Senators, communities, Tribes, businesses, and all New Mexicans are invested in protecting our most treasured rivers.

Introduced by Sens. Heinrich and Luján, the bill has the support of myself and the river community. Every year, paddlers wait for the snow to melt into clear, fresh river water and then we drop everything to paddle the Gila and San Francisco Rivers, some of the most remote and wilderness rivers in the State. An opportunity to float down a wild river for days without seeing another person is what keeps us coming back.

Protecting the Gila and San Francisco Rivers will support New Mexico’s vibrant outdoor recreation economy now and for future generations. If this bill is passed, my children and their children will be able to grow up in a place where wild, natural rivers and clean water are valued and where they have access to wild places. In the face of an ongoing global pandemic, my family and our neighbors around New Mexico have relied on the outdoors for our physical and mental health. The protection of the Gila and San Francisco Rivers recognizes the important connection that we have with wild and untouched spaces and for that I am grateful.

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