State Wild Horse Sanctuary Will Boost Jobs, Tourism

Opinion column by Patience O’Dowd, President of WHOA, as printed in the Albuquerque Journal , 10/13/10 (after a week of WHOA prodding and urging the Journal editors): 

The proposed 12,000-acre expansion of Cerrillos State Park will be a great asset to New Mexico’s growing heritage tourism industry.
        Less than half of the expansion will be utilized by the wild horses, but they are sure to be a major attraction, thus helping more people than horses.
        Tourism is New Mexico’s and the nation’s largest private sector employer. Over 80 percent of that is heritage tourism. Money and jobs from heritage tourism are broad based. When people visit, they stay in hotels and B&B’s, use our airport, drive rental cars, eat in restaurants, buy arts and crafts, utilize outfitters, frequent shops, and more. They tell others to visit New Mexico.
        The wild horse park would have a positive return on investment, due to allure of wild horses nationally and internationally. One example is the annual Chincoteague pony swim in Virginia in place since 1925. This pony swim lasting just a few minutes draws 40,000 excited spectators and has become a national treasure.
        Those not currently up for election speak clearly on this issue: Jim Noel, secretary of the state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, wrote recently that New Mexico established its first state parks in the midst of the Great Depression and that like roads, affordable housing and new broadband projects, this park will still be here as part of New Mexico’s infrastructure when the Recovery Act is finished.
        The New Mexico Tourism Department wrote in 2007, that New Mexico was “missing an opportunity to draw tourist from all over the world…” in not having advertised our wild horses so far.
        In Jan. 2006, Sen. Tom Udall, then a U.S. representative, wrote: “Wild horses are a part of New Mexico’s great heritage and a beautiful component of our forest and mountain landscapes…. There is certainly great economic potential in welcoming tourists from New Mexico and elsewhere to discover the beauty of our wild horse herds.”
        This park has been labeled by some as an unsupported choice between people vs. animals. However, only 0.07 percent of New Mexico’s stimulus funds are proposed for this park, while 8.18 percent of the stimulus funds had been designated to “the family safety net.” Counties across the state like Rio Arriba received $39 million and larger counties like Bernalillo received over $254 million in stimulus funds, from the $3.9 billion allotted to New Mexico.
        This park expansion on the Turquoise Trail will bring tourists eager to see wild horses all around the state, including those at Monero Mustangs just outside Chama, providing clean rural economic development for many.
 
 
As a matter of course for the Albuquerque Journal, within the same issue they had to print another negative, frontpage article regarding the purchase of land for the expansion of Cerrillos State Park.  That would make it the seventh or eighth (we’ve lost count now) negative opinion article to our one lone piece.   
 
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