New Mexico wants federal help

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Environment Secretary Ron Curry has asked for help with off-road impacts

By Susan M. Bryan

ALBUQUERQUE — New Mexico Environment Secretary Ron Curry  has asked the federal government for help with what he called an “urgent issue” affecting the state’s water quality.

Curry is taking aim at off-road vehicle trails on the Santa Fe National Forest in northern New Mexico, saying in a letter addressed to regional officials with the Environmental Protection Agency that fragile soils and riparian ecosystems are being destroyed.

“I personally toured an area of the Jemez Mountains affected by ORV and ATV use in 2009 and expressed my concerns to the Santa Fe National Forest supervisor regarding the impacts I observed to state surface water resources. One year later, ORV and ATVs are still uncontrolled on our national forest public lands,” Curry wrote in his letter.

Curry is requesting $150,000 in EPA funds to hire a contractor to study and quantify the contribution of off-roading activity to sediment and turbidity impairment in streams and wetlands. The money would go toward identifying areas where off-highway vehicle use has the greatest impact on water quality so land managers can focus their mitigation efforts, he said.

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