TAOS, N.M. — A measure that would further protect thousands of acres within the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in northern New Mexico has won approval from the U.S. Senate.

The Cerro del Yuta and Rio San Antonio Wilderness Act passed the Republican-controlled chamber late last week with unanimous support. The bill now heads to the House for consideration.

The measure would establish two new wilderness areas within the monument that would cover more than 21,000 acres (8,500 hectares).

Sen. Martin Heinrich says setting aside the areas as wilderness would further complete the vision of stakeholders who fought to protect the monument during a recent federal review. He said the legislation calls for preserving traditional practices.

Heinrich and fellow New Mexico Democrat Tom Udall first introduced the wilderness proposal years ago. They revived it earlier this year.