As tough as 2020 has been so far, the unprecedented circumstances also have given many of us in New Mexico time to reflect on what’s truly important.

Faced with the ravages and restrictions of the ongoing pandemic, we haven’t been able to gather together as usual either to work or to play this year.

But the situation also has driven many of us to spend more time outdoors, enjoying the millions of acres of public lands that are our birthright as New Mexicans. Most of us are leaning heavily on our public lands not only to provide recreation and food for our families, but to provide for our spiritual well-being in these tough times.

Against this reality, the New Mexico Wildlife Federation has released a report calling for a massive increase in permanent conservation of lands in the state to protect wildlife and fight climate change. The report recognizes that preserving our public lands will only become more important in the years to come.

Titled “A Roadmap for Conserving New Mexico’s Outdoor Heritage,” the report emphasizes the importance of preserving 30 percent of the state’s lands in their natural state by the year 2030. Currently, only an estimated 6 percent of lands in the state are under permanent protection.

We must protect our wild lands and waters for future generations to experience the hunting and fishing we cherish as New Mexicans. Beyond that, this preservation effort is critical in our fight against climate change. This is clearly the most urgent and important action we must take to prevent the collapse of our natural world. We owe it to our kids to act.

Outgoing New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall has led the call for protecting 30 percent of the nation’s lands and waters by 2030. President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to support the plan as part of his effort to slow climate change.

Our report notes ongoing conservation efforts that serve as a roadmap for future action. Among those are the recent state efforts to recognize and protect wildlife migration corridors, creation and expansion of wilderness areas and refuges, and vitally important action by private landowners who voluntarily have placed their lands into conservation easements.

We have the tools to make this critical conservation goal a reality. Making it happen will require commitment not only from our politicians, but from all of us who love this state and want to pass it on to our children in good shape.

Jesse Deubel is executive director of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. Read the report at

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