Wild horse enthusiasts will recognize Madeleine Pickens' name not for her marriage to Texas oil baron

, but rather for her work

a large-scale preserve for mustangs. According to New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department spokeswoman Jodi McGinnis Porter, Pickens is planning to fly in for

today's press conference on a wild horse preserve

Gov. Bill Richardson hopes to establish outside Madrid.


Last week, Richardson's office announced his plan to purchase over 12,000 acres of the Ortiz Mountain Ranch, just outside Madrid, to expand Cerrillos Hills State Park and create a wild horse sanctuary. The purchase will be funded with $2.8 million in federal stimulus money, according to a Sept. 16 press release.

Several elements of the plan remain up in the air. For one thing, any land acquisition

must be approved by the State Board of Finance

(which is scheduled to meet today but does not list the Ortiz Mountain Ranch property on its

). And developing New Mexico's first wild horse sanctuary will certainly take time to plan and execute—which makes the press release's air of certainty appear somewhat premature.

The use of badly needed stimulus funding for a horse preserve has also elicited some criticism: On Saturday, Albuquerque Journal staff writer Thomas J Cole

a GOP campaign ad accusing Richardson's administration of

"putting horses before kids."

Wild horse activists, needless to say, are happy. Alicia Nation, the founder of the

, tells SFR she's thrilled with a project that has the potential to transform the state's tourism, education and recreation opportunities. And for Richardson, it's a chance to build a legacy that goes beyond corruption scandals.

Today, 1 - 2 pm

3 miles south of Madrid on Hwy 14