Santa Fe National Forest grows with 57 acres of wildlands, thanks to Karl’s legacy

July 28, 2023- An hour’s drive northwest of Santa Fe, New Mexico, the small town of Abiquiu— population 150— is best known as the home of artist Georgia O’Keeffe and the landscapes she painted. For locals, and those who have visited, it’s also known for another attraction: Bode’s Mercantile. Mention Abiquiu in conversation and chances are the response will be “Make sure you stop at Bode’s for a breakfast burrito” (a note from the writer: I did happen to stop there this year while visiting family for the holidays, and the burritos are, in fact, that good). First founded in 1890, then bought by Martin Bode in 1919, and passed down to his son Karl in the 1950s, the Mercantile is a center of northern New Mexico community. Karl, who could be found there nearly every day for over 40 years, was equally iconic. His 2019 obituary remembers “Karl was a Northern New Mexico icon and will long be remembered as a storyteller. He had a memory for detail and dates that kept listeners spellbound — he loved to tell it all. He was a lover of horses and the great outdoors, a conservationist at heart.”

The Trust’s Senior Lands Specialist Aimee Rutledge with Karl Bode at Frijoles Springs

After considering 15-20 other conservation organizations across the country, the Trust had the honor of being chosen to be part of Karl’s legacy to protect his 57-acre Frijoles Spring property. Upon his death, he left the property, which adjoins the Arroyo de los Frijoles Inventoried Roadless Area, to the Trust with the goal of transferring it to public ownership. This week Karl’s wishes were fulfilled when the property became part of Santa Fe National Forest. 

While not designated wilderness, inventoried roadless areas (IRAs) are public lands with strong wilderness characteristics including, as the name suggests, connected habitat unencumbered by roads. An inholding within the 5,275-acre Arroyo de los Frijoles IRA, the Frijoles Spring property is a mix of piñon pine, open meadows, wetlands, and an important year-round water source in the arid landscape. In acquiring and transferring the property we also protected a water right that dates back to 1906, and public access on a trail running through it. Thanks to Karl’s forward-thinking and passion for community and conservation, these lands will remain undeveloped and open for future generations of wildlife and people to enjoy.

Project Updates

August 12, 2022-

In the last two years, The Wilderness Land Trust has completed fundraising campaigns for several critical property acquisitions. Your generosity funded the purchase of these lands and covered acquisition costs. We are happy to provide you an update on the second phase of those projects, the transfer to public land.

Achenbach | Organ Mountains Wilderness, NM

WLT acquired 109 acres and secured trail access at the mouth of Achenbach Canyon in February 2021, protecting wildlife habitat and scenic views within the 500,000-acre wilderness. The Trust is grateful for our partnership with Friends of Organ Mountains Desert Peaks. We continue to work with the Bureau of Land Management staff to transfer the Achenbach Canyon property for permanent protection, which will take a few years. Thanks for your support of this important acquisition at Achenbach Canyon to protect future public access.

Panama and Principal Lode | Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, CO

When we purchased the 19-acre Panama/Principal Lode property outside of Aspen, Colorado in the fall of 2020, we knew there was work to be done to get the property “wilderness ready” in order to transfer it to the White River National Forest. A historic cabin on the property needed to be emptied of its contents, its roof dismantled, and the mounds of trash surrounding it, removed.

The Trust enlisted the help of The Independence Pass Foundation (IPF) with the cleanup and throughout last summer, volunteers made multiple trips to the property to haul out everything from old bedsprings to a heavy table and chairs to a yoga mat. The culmination of this work happened in late August, 2021 when the Trust, IPF, and the Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers (RFOV) dismantled and carried out a wood-burning stone, the cabin’s plywood floor and metal roof.

We are happy to report that, upon the completion of this cleanup, the property is now ready to be transferred to become part of the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness. We are working with the US Forest Service staff to complete this transfer.

Little Chetco | Kalmiopsis Wilderness, OR

The Trust acquired this 60-acre mining claim adjacent the Little Chetco River in 2017, the last remaining private inholding within the 180,000 acre Kalmiopsis Wilderness. This southwest Oregon wilderness contains the headwaters of three national wild and scenic rivers — the Chetco, North Fork Smith, and Illinois — clean, clear waters that provide critical habitat for salmon and steelhead. Our acquisition and impending transfer to the USFS permanently removes the threat of a former active mining operation that directly impacted critical spawning beds and water quality of the Chetco River drainage.

Acquisition of these properties removed the threat of development, but there is an equal amount of hard work in transferring these properties to our agency partners for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System. Your continued support of The Wilderness Land Trust provides the resources for our staff to complete site visits and due diligence in that second phase of work. Please consider making a gift to steward these lands into public ownership!

Sabinoso Wilderness Expands by Nearly 50 Percent

Wilderness Land Trust Vice President and Senior Lands Specialist Aimee Rutledge with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland

Wilderness Land Trust Vice President and Senior Lands Specialist Aimee Rutledge with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland

July 23, 2021 – The Sabinoso Wilderness in New Mexico has expanded again thanks to our partnership with Trust for Public Land (TPL), the Wyss Foundation, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the leadership of U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) staff and local public officials.

Through a land donation that included 908 acres of property acquired by The Wilderness Land Trust and TPL’s 8,947-acre Cañon Ciruela property, a total of 9,855 acres have been transferred to the BLM, marking the largest expansion of a federally designated wilderness via donation in U.S. history.

Our work on the Rimrock Rose Ranch project adjacent to the Sabinoso Wilderness opened public access to this previously land-locked wilderness area and increased the size of the federal designation by 25 percent with the first 3,600 acre land transfer in 2017. The latest addition will create a second access point for the public.

During her visit to the Sabinoso, Secretary Haaland called the wilderness “An environmental treasure for all the American people.” We couldn’t agree more with her assessment. Our sincere thanks for your generous support of our work to protect federally designated wilderness in New Mexico and across the American West. Read more about this project in the Albuquerque Journal and Santa Fe New Mexican.

U.S. Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland, Senators Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, Representative Teresa Leger Fernandez, Santa Fe County Commission Anna Hansen, Bureau of Land Management staff, and representatives from The Wilderness Land Trust, Trust for Public Land, National Wildlife Federation, Wyss Foundation, and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation joined together to celebrate the latest Sabinoso Wilderness expansion on July 17, 2021.

U.S. Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland, Senators Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, Representative Teresa Leger Fernandez, Santa Fe County Commission Anna Hansen, Bureau of Land Management staff, and representatives from The Wilderness Land Trust, Trust for Public Land, National Wildlife Federation, Wyss Foundation, and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation joined together to celebrate the latest Sabinoso Wilderness expansion on July 17, 2021.
Photo credit: Jerod Foster, courtesy of The Trust for Public Land

U.S. Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland cuts the ceremonial ribbon

Photo credit: Jerod Foster, courtesy of The Trust for Public Land 

U.S. Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland speaking at the event

Photo credit: Jerod Foster, courtesy of The Trust for Public Land