- Associated Press - Friday, December 30, 2016

SILVER CITY, N.M. (AP) - The Gila National Forest in southern New Mexico is now nearly one square mile bigger.

The Trust for Public Land says it has conveyed 605 acres to the U.S. Forest Service through an arrangement paid for with money from the national Land and Water Conservation Fund.

The property along the Upper Bear Creek was already surrounded mostly by federal land and includes a mile of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail and a stretch of the Trail of the Mountain Spirits National Scenic Byway.

Officials say the transaction will give visitors better access to the national forest.

The property was purchased for $1.8 million from a private landowner by The Trust for Public Land. The Forest Service then purchased it for the same price using money from conservation fund.

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