Cisco Guevara (left) helps a team raft down the Rio Grande in New Mexico.
When Francisco "Cisco" Guevara actually has any free time, he spends it pretty much the same way he does while he's at work.
"I try to run the Taos Box," says Cisco, owner of Los Rios River Runners in Taos, New Mexico. "It's where the biggest rapids are on the Rio Grande. It's a remote section, so floating is the only way out. There are no roads or trails."
Cisco and millions of other Americans cheered Monday when President Obama announced the designation of five new national monuments, including Rio Grande del Norte. (See earlier TreeHugger here)
The Rio Grande with Ute Mountain.
This historic designation of about 240,000 acres near Taos, New Mexico, will safeguard wildlife habitat prized by hunters and anglers, as well as preserve rafting, camping, and other recreational opportunities. It also protects clean drinking water and celebrates the region's diverse Hispanic and tribal heritage.
Cisco, who has long worked with local coalition partners and environmental groups, is excited for the economic boost the designation will provide the area -- and what it means to his heritage as well.
"This is a really great way to get the word out there that we have something special here that people should come visit. This means a lot to everyone who lives here, and to folks like me whose families have been here for generations," says Cisco.
"It's great that businesses are supportive of preserving and conserving, because protecting public water and land is good for business."
The Sierra Club applauded President Obama's designations Monday -- because we love and recognize the importance of the wonderful, historic areas chosen. The four other new national monuments are the San Juan Islands in Washington State, the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Maryland, the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio, and the Delaware Heritage Trail, which is the first national monument in that state.
We were proud to work with diverse coalitions of organizations in each state to call for these designations.
In New Mexico, Cisco is excited for more people to enjoy the recreational opportunities in Rio Grande del Norte.
"The area is so vast, there are so many different wonderful things to participate in, depending on the season. I'm a lucky guy to get to work out here. Physically, spiritually, mentally, this designation is really good for us. It's great to see this area recognized as a special place worth protecting."
From Maryland and Delaware to Ohio, Texas, and Washington, millions of Americans will now be able to enjoy these newly protected national monuments.
TAKE ACTION: Thank President Obama for designating the five new national monuments.