Buses, roads and wildlife

October 31, 2014

 

Good Idea: Regional Transit System

Transportation issues are often wildlife issues too. Case in point: there are two important transportation decisions currently facing residents of southern New Mexico that could have a significant impact on wildlife.

The first is a proposed small increase in the Gross Receipts Tax to fund a regional transit system on the Nov. 4 ballot.  Not only will a good transit system unite our region, see it will reduce the use of personal vehicles, which benefits wildlife in the following ways:

  • Fewer road kills
  • Reduced demand for new roads and resulting habitat fragmentation
  • Reduced fossil fuel consumption and all the benefits that come with that: fewer oil spills, less greenhouse gas emissions, etc.

So if you live in Doña Ana County, don’t forget about wildlife when deciding how to vote on this issue.

Bad Idea: Paving Baylor Canyon Road

The second decision is an ill-considered proposal by Doña Ana County and BLM to pave the last few miles of Baylor Canyon Road in the new Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. Paving Baylor Canyon road will create a commute bypass around Las Cruces and cause traffic to increase tremendously, taking  a serious toll on wildlife.

The straightness of the road encourages speeding. The number of wildlife hit by vehicles will skyrocket. Habitat will be fragmented. The ability of wildlife to move between the mountains and lower elevations in search of food, water, shelter and mates will be compromised, especially for smaller and slower moving species that are particularly vulnerable to getting hit by cars.

Baylor Canyon is a terrible place for a bypass route. Not only is it in the new monument, it is right next to a wilderness study area boundary. The county has long planned a bypass along Weisner Road to the west, outside of the current monument, which makes much more sense.

The public can comment on this proposal before November 20.  Stay tuned for more details.

Wolf Spotted at Grand Canyon

A wolf-like animal has been observed on the north rim of the Grand Canyon for the past few weeks. Wildlife officials are still trying to determine its exact identity, but it appears to be a wild gray wolf that traveled down from the north. If so, it would be the first documented gray wolf at the Grand Canyon in 60 years, and cause for celebration. Read more and see photo here.

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