The House of Representatives has passed a bill, HR 491, that would add about 900 acres to the northern end of the Cibola National Forest. The Crest of Montezuma, which forms the backdrop to the village of Placitas, is currently controlled by the Bureau of Land Management. The bill was sponsored by Representative Martin Heinrich, who says, aside from being visually stunning, the parcel is also an important wildlife corridor.
"I think this bill will go a long way toward making sure that there's never a mine or gravel pit and that beautiful backdrop to Placitas always remains the same."
The bill now goes to the Senate, where Heinrich says its chances are good.
Three private landowners in the area have also signaled their willingness to sell to the Forest Service. Heinrich says he hopes that can be accomplished with money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Heinrich introduced a second measure, HR 490, simultaneously in 2010. That bill, which has not fared as well, would have granted wilderness status to a strip of land in the Manzanos now managed as a Wilderness Study Area.