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.
M. H. Salmon is the author of seven books including the nonfiction Gila Descending: A Southwestern Journey and The Catfish as Metaphor, and the novel Home is the River. He lives near Silver City, New Mexico.