Wednesday, August 02, 2017

How Two Senators, a Swiss Philanthropist, and Secretary Zinke Could Unlock America’s Only Inaccessible Wilderness

There’s a 16,000-acre wilderness in Northern New Mexico that’s full of turkeys, mule deer, and elk (it’s even rumored to hold trophy aoudad). What’s more, this rugged wilderness of deep canyons, cottonwood river bottoms, and mesas has seen hardly any hunting pressure for at least a decade. The nearest city (Las Vegas, N.M., population 13,285) is a good 50 miles away. But there’s a catch to this backcountry hunter’s paradise, and it’s a big one. Right now, the Sabinoso Wilderness is completely inaccessible to the public—it’s the only designated wilderness in the country that you can’t get to. The area is surrounded by private land (since it’s designated wilderness, you can’t even helicopter in if you wanted to). This wilderness could be unlocked, possibly in time for this fall’s hunting season, with a signature from the Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke. One of the ranches bordering the Sabinoso Wilderness was sold to the Wilderness Land Trust for $3 million, and the Trust intends to donate that land to the Bureau of Land Management in order to open access to the public. A quick aside here: The Wilderness Land Trust got the funds to purchase the ranch through the Wyss Foundation, a private charity founded by Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss. Hansjorg, who now lives in Wyoming, made his fortune through the medical device industry. While working in the U.S., he fell in love with the American ideals of public land...more

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