April 28, 2021

Trust for Public Lands seeks to donate nearly 9,900 acres to expand Sabinoso Wilderness Area

Bureau of Land Management

The Sabinoso Wilderness Area is pictured in this undated Bureau of Land Management image

A donation of nearly 9,900 acres of land in San Miguel County for the expansion of Sabinoso Wilderness could increase access to the remote landscape.

The Trust for Public Lands is in the process of donating 9,855 acres known as Cañon Ciruela to the Bureau of Land Management. Public comments regarding the transfer are being accepted through May 21.

This donation would increase the size of the wilderness area by approximately 50 percent. It will also add an additional access point.

The Cañon Ciruela donation is located northwest of the current wilderness area boundaries and also includes portions of Cañon Largo and Spring Canyon.

While there hasn’t been an archaeological survey, Cañon Largo was used as a route between Fort Union and Fort Bascom and the remnants of a historic military road can be seen.

In addition, the property that is being donated includes a portion of Punta Ciruela, which includes sandstone cliffs and fins.

“This proposed donation includes land just outside of the Wilderness specifically for parking and staging access. The public would have the ability to get to their wilderness and enjoy it, and that’s what is exciting,” said BLM Taos Field Manager Pamela Mathis in a press release announcing the proposed donation. “The Cañon Ciruela is home to mule deer, elk, mountain lion, black bear and Rio Grande turkey. The adjacent property would significantly add to, enhance and further secure the resource conservation values of the existing designated wilderness if accepted by the BLM.”

The public has only had access to the Sabinoso Wilderness since 2017 when a land donation of 3,600 acres from the Wilderness Land Trust provided a way for the public to enter. The wilderness area was designated in 2009.

The Sabinoso Wilderness Area is pictured in this undated Bureau of Land Management image.

The new land donation would prohibit grazing of livestock in Cañon Ciruela, however the BLM states that this will have no impact on existing grazing permits or operations.

More information about the proposed donation can be found at eplanning.blm.gov.

The Trust for Public Lands website states it anticipates the donation to be finalized this fall.