Issue: Wild Lands
Partners: American Rivers, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, New Mexico Wildlife Federation
EcoFlight and New Mexico Wilderness Alliance organized flights over the Gila River with elected officials, congressional staff, news reporters and river advocates to highlight the wild and rugged nature of the landscape proposed for Wild & Scenic designation. Earned media educated the public about the proposal
The Gila River starts its journey in America's first designated wilderness area. It is one of the Southwest's last remaining free-flowing rivers. Known as one of the most important birding areas of the country, it also provides critical wildlife habitat for a number of threatened and endangered species. Fourteen native fish species live in the basin, including four that are not found anywhere else in the world.
The Gila headwaters has rich historical and cultural significance, including the Mogollon civilization dating back to 9,500 B.C., and home to Apache, Mountain Men and Buffalo Soldiers. The Gila and its tributaries have traditionally provided recreation, fishing, hunting to many local communities and a place to harvest medicinal plants.
However, the river faces unprecedented pressures from increasing population and development of the Southwest. A proposed Wild and Scenic designation for this crown jewel of the southwest would prevent proposed dams and diversions that would jeopardize the river's outstanding ecological, historical, cultural and recreational values, while protecting existing water rights and public access.Grant County recently announced their support for wild and scenic protections for the Gila and San Francisco Rivers.