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Gila Libre!

New Mexico's Last Wild River
By M. H. Salmon

Details

Overview

M. H. Salmon was told, "a river named 'Gila' offered sporting fish. But this was no river. It was a stream, and standing on the bank I could see that if you picked out a riffle you could cross on foot without wetting your knees. Hardly even your ankles. I knew rivers--the St. Lawrence, the Seneca, the Oswego, the Salmon, the Black, and the Nueces. A real river could float a freighter, or at the least a barge, a yacht, a bass or drift boat. This Gila would ground a canoe." But he soon learned the river offered more than water and fish.
Gila Libre! New Mexico's Last Wild River is the story of a geographic anomaly that includes roughly four million acres of the nation's first designated (1924) wilderness area, New Mexico's largest national forest, and the state's only undammed river. Visitors might spot a beaver and a coatimundi on the same day, an elk and a javelina on the same hillside, or catch a flathead catfish and a wild trout in the same pool. Apaches roamed along the Gila's shores, as did mountain men and outlaws.
Gila Libre! tells the river's story to date, extolling what is still a unique Southwest resource and speculating on its future, which includes the threatening proposal of a major state and federal water project.

Contributor Bios
M. H. Salmon is publisher of High-Lonesome Books and the author of The Catfish as Metaphor: A Fisherman's American Journey. He lives near Silver City, New Mexico.