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Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-NM, spoke to local leaders about efforts to market outdoor recreation and encourage new businesses. Wochit

Martin Heinrich calls for creation of state office

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FARMINGTON — U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., says he will call on the state’s gubernatorial candidates to commit to funding a state office to promote outdoor recreation.

Heinrich addressed outdoor recreation during a visit to Farmington today.

He said neighboring states like Utah and Colorado have benefited from having a state office to promote outdoor recreation.

“It’s a small investment for a huge potential,” he said during a meeting with local leaders, including Farmington Mayor Nate Duckett and San Juan County Executive Officer Kim Carpenter.

The meeting included people who are involved in the Outdoor Recreation Industry Initiative, a collaborative effort focused on developing an outdoor recreation economy. Heinrich also met with Bureau of Land Management officials to tour the Brown Springs recreation site in the Glade Run Recreation Area.

“I think it’s good to see the BLM, the city and the county working well together,” Heinrich said during a visit to The Daily Times this afternoon.

Heinrich was optimistic about local efforts to diversify the economy by marketing outdoor recreation opportunities.

He said there are multiple outdoor recreation opportunities available in the San Juan County area, including hiking trails, mountain biking, off-highway vehicle trails and world-class fishing.

“There’s no reason Farmington can’t compete with the Durangos and Moabs of the world in terms of outdoor recreation,” he said.

New businesses focus on outdoor recreation

Heinrich visited Jack’s Plastic Welding on Tuesday in Aztec. The downtown raft-making business has been in Aztec since 1990 and employs about a dozen people. He said while he was at the business he learned that a new bike shop is opening almost across the street.

“Word is getting out,” Heinrich said.

Another new outdoors business, Four Corners Explorers, was highlighted as an example of what the ORII hopes to accomplish. Robbie Donald, the owner of the off-highway vehicle rental business, accompanied Heinrich and other officials on an OHV tour of the Brown Springs area in Glade Run Recreation Area.

Heinrich said he will help promote and develop outdoors recreation through assisting with finding grants, providing letters of support and promoting outdoor recreation opportunities in the area on social media.

Heinrich is running for re-election

Heinrich has been senator since 2013 and is running for re-election. He said he is focusing on this record of accomplishments, including his service on the Committee on Armed Services and Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

"Every election is a brand new world," he said.

Heinrich is running unopposed in the June primary election and likely will face Republican candidate Mick Rich in the November general election.

Heinrich discusses energy development

He said he supports the ban on oil and gas development within a 10-mile radius of Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

“I think the buffer area is a really important step forward, and I think we need to maintain that buffer,” he said.

Heinrich said he also supports the Bureau of Land Management's Obama-era methane waste prevention rule. The methane rule aims to reduce emissions caused by venting, flaring and leaks during oil and gas production.

“You can do this, and it could be good for business, too,” he said.

Heinrich cited Colorado's success in capturing methane normally vented from gas wells.

“It’s a public resource, and we should make the most of it,” he said.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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