WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 1, 2017) — Yesterday, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, attended the Zuni Mountain Trails Project signing ceremony. During the event, Alvin Whitehair, District Ranger from the Mt. Taylor Ranger District of Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands signed the project’s Decision Notice and Findings of No Significant Impact. This represents a major milestone and begins the trail planning and construction process.
The Zuni Mountain Trails Partnership—which includes the Northwest New Mexico Council of Governments, McKinley and Cibola Counties, Adventure Gallup and Beyond, and the U.S. Forest Service—has worked with the local community for years to design an extensive mountain bike trail system.
“Thanks to the collaborative effort of the Zuni Mountain Trails Partnership and the Mt. Taylor Ranger District, outdoor enthusiasts from near and far can experience all that this special area has to offer,” said Heinrich. “I am proud to support the communities in Cibola and McKinley Counties who have worked for years to make the Zuni Mountain Trails project a reality. This new trail system will put western New Mexico on the map as a premier destination for outdoor recreation and spur economic development. I welcome this announcement and thank all who helped make it possible.”
Through his role on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Heinrich urged the U.S. Forest Service to complete its environmental review of the project so it could be built. After delays in the process, Heinrich pressed U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell in a committee hearing last year to commit to completing the review by this spring so trail design and construction could commence.
The Zuni Trails Project will add approximately 186 miles of new trails, five new trailheads, parking lots, and restrooms to the existing system. The new trails will be designed to protect soil and watershed resources and allow for multiple uses including horseback riding, mountain biking, and hiking. Trail construction through a $1.7 million New Mexico Department of Transportation grant begins next year.
According to a report released earlier this year, the outdoor recreation economy creates $887 billion in annual consumer spending and directly supports 7.6 million jobs throughout the United States. In New Mexico, outdoor recreation generates 68,000 jobs and $6.1 billion of annual economic activity.