Editor’s Note: La Jicarita first reported back in 2012 about the movement to expand the boundaries of the Pecos Wilderness. New Mexico Wilderness Alliance member John Olivas came to Vadito to meet with acequia and land grant representatives about his group’s plan (along with the New Mexico Wilderness Society) to include 130,000 acres of roadless areas on all sides of the extant Pecos Wilderness. The consensus at that meeting was loud and clear: “The Forest Service hasn’t protected our grant up to now so we don’t think they’d do any better with this.”
At the time Olivas was chair of the Mora County Commission and pushed through a county resolution in support of the Pecos Wilderness expansion. You may recall that while Olivas was in office he also pushed through the Mora County Community Water Rights and Local Self-Government Ordinance that banned all oil and gas development in Mora County. The county was subsequently sued by the oil and gas industry and several private landowners in two lawsuits and the ordinance was struck down as unconstitutional in district court in January of 2015 . Olivas was not reelected to the county commission, and in April of 2015 the newly elected commission repealed the ordinance. The lawsuits were subsequently dropped.
Olivas and the wilderness groups continue to push forward with proposal to expand the Pecos. They’ve appeared before the Taos County Commission several times as well as at meetings held in Peñasco, where once again the local folks voted down the proposal. On March 17 the Mora County Commission rescinded the wilderness resolution and issued a resolution that emphasizes cultural heritage and the need for forest restoration work. Here is the text of that resolution: