Agencies sign agreement to help preserve Continental Divide trail 4-9-07

SANTA FE, New Mexico (AP) - Several state agencies signed an agreement April 9, 2007 aimed at uniting their efforts to complete, maintain and protect the 3,100-mile-long Continental Divide National Scenic Trail in New Mexico

The trail runs from Canada to Mexico and connects numerous cultural, natural and historical sites. In New Mexico, it will link areas such as El Malpais National Monument, Mount Taylor, Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, the Big Hatchet Mountains and the Zuni-Acoma trail.

The trail spans 740 miles in New Mexico but only 46 percent of the state's portion is complete, compared with 63 percent of the trail overall.

The Continental Divide Trail Alliance in New Mexico includes the Acoma Tribe, the state Land Office, the state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service.

According to a New Mexico State Parks Division news release, the interagency group is the first of its kind in the five states that encompass the trail.

Gov. Bill Richardson said the agreement will help promote tourism and support rural economies throughout New Mexico.

The Continental Divide trail was established by Congress as a National Scenic Trail in 1978.