Latest: New Mexico land deal opens wilderness access

The Sabinoso Wilderness Area was impossible to access for years, thanks to private landowners.

  • A view from Rimrock Rose Ranch.

    Courtesy Hayden Outdoors

Access to millions of acres of landlocked Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service territory depends on private landowners’ willingness to share throughways, or sell land, and while federal agencies are working on the problem, millions of acres of public land are still effectively off-limits. New Mexico’s 16,000-acre Sabinoso Wilderness Area was designated in 2009, but this remote high-desert landscape, home to cliff-lined canyons and narrow mesas, remained impossible to visit — it was completely surrounded by private property  (“Private property blocks access to public lands,HCN, 2/2/15).

In January, the Wilderness Land Trust bought a 4,000-acre parcel of land called the Rimrock Rose Ranch, next to the Sabinoso, with a $3 million donation from the Wyss Foundation. The plan is to transfer the land to the BLM, which manages the wilderness, as part of a larger effort to develop access routes to marooned public land.

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