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Know the West

Latest: New Mexico’s landlocked wilderness may become reachable

Feds move to accept land that would open access to the Sabinoso Wilderness


Access to millions of acres of public land around the West depends on private landowners’ willingness to allow easements or sell neighboring land. East of Las Vegas, New Mexico, the 16,000-acre Sabinoso Wilderness Area, with its stark cliffs and deep canyons, is the nation’s only legally inaccessible wilderness. It’s been off-limits since it was designated in 2009 because it’s completely surrounded by private property (“Private property blocks access to public lands,” HCN, 2/2/15).

Last year, the Wilderness Land Trust bought the 4,200-acre Rimrock Rose Ranch, adjoining the Sabinoso. This August, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced that the Bureau of Land Management will complete the processes needed to accept the Trust’s donation of 3,595 acres of the ranch. If it’s approved, people will be able to reach the Sabinoso for hiking, elk and mule deer hunting, fishing, horseback riding and camping as early as late fall.