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US state to expand park, create horse reserve

September 21, 2010

The state of New Mexico is buying land to expand a state park and create a wild horse sanctuary, which it believes will offer tourism opportunities.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.

Ortiz Mountain. © TNC

Governor Bill Richardson said he was using $US2.8 million in federal stimulus money to buy 12,142 acres of land known as the Ortiz Mountain Ranch to expand Cerrillos Hills State Park to create the sanctuary.

"The Galisteo Basin is one of New Mexico's crown jewels," he said.

The federal money has allowed for a long-term investment in the land that will provide opportunities for recreation, and support the local economy through jobs and promoting tourism, he said.

The state has entered into a purchase agreement with the Nature Conservancy and a private owner to complete the vision.

The pristine land, three miles south of Madrid on both the east and west side of New Mexico Highway 14, located in the Galisteo Basin, is being bought for less than $US224 an acre. It is an easy 40-minute drive from either Santa Fe or Albuquerque.

The discretionary award from the Government Services Fund will allow Cerrillos Hills State Park to broaden its appeal by offering wider recreation opportunities, including hiking, biking, equestrian, birding, specialised tours, activities related to wild horses, and overnight stays through camping and lodging.

"This is a great long-term investment in New Mexico," said Jim Noel, Cabinet Secretary for the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.

"The expansion of this state park will support the local economy, promote tourism and will provide year-round hiking opportunities."

State parks generate about $US400 million annually in economic activity in New Mexico and are key elements of the state's recreation and tourism economy, especially in rural areas. Acquisition of this property for the expansion of Cerrillos Hills State Park

Map of Ortiz Mountain Ranch.
Figures from the Outdoor Industry Foundation show the active outdoor recreation economy in New Mexico:



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