The US Department of Interior is inviting the public to join Senators Tom Udall, Martin Heinrich and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell for a public meeting this Friday in Las Cruces.
In 2012, ProgressNowNM joined cohorts in Colorado and Nevada with the “Monumental West” campaign to engage more New Mexicans in the long-standing efforts by national and in-state groups to designate the Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains wilderness areas as national monuments. At least 175 local organizations have joined in support of a national monument designation for the Organ Mountains area.
A number of proposals for monument designation have been introduced in Congress. Tea Party Rep. Steve Pearce introduced a measure to designate a small portion of the area as a monument, but also includes large, and many say unnecessary, carve-outs for continued use of the land.
Senators Udall and Heinrich have jointly sponsored (read story here) legislation that would designate about a half-million acres of land around the Organ, Doña Ana, Potrillo, Robledo and Uvas mountains as a national monument. DOI’s event Friday is co-hosted with the senators.
In similar fashion, then-Secretary Ken Salazar held a standing room only public meeting in Taos in December 2012 to discuss designations for the Rio Grande del Norte area. The following March, President Obama designated the area a national monument.
Supporters of a similar proposal hope that Friday’s meeting and review by Secretary Jewell continues the Organ Mountains designation down a similar path.
Secretary Jewell to Join Senators Udall, Heinrich in Visit to New Mexico
LAS CRUCES, N.M. – On Friday, January 24, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will join New Mexico Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich in a visit to the Organ Mountains region of south-central New Mexico. While there, Jewell will spend time exploring the area and will attend a public meeting hosted by Senators Udall and Heinrich regarding the community’s vision to preserve, protect and enhance some of the public lands located in Doña Ana County.
The Organ Mountains stand just east of Las Cruces, extending for 20 miles and rising to nearly 9,000 feet in elevation. The area is home to a diversity of wildlife, including peregrine falcons and other raptors, as well as mountain lions and other mammals. The Bureau of Land Management currently manages over one million acres in Doña Ana County which is a popular destination for outdoor recreation, including hiking, camping, hunting and mountain biking. The area also hosts significant prehistoric cultural and historic sites.
At the invitation of the two Senators, Jewell will join Udall and Heinrich, as well as Principal Deputy Director at the Bureau of Land Management Neil Kornze, for a public listening session on the community’s conservation priorities in the area. The community meeting will take place Friday at 3pm MST at the Ramada Palms Las Cruces.
Sally Jewell, U.S. Secretary of the Interior
Neil Kornze, Principal Deputy Director at the Bureau of Land Management
Tom Udall, U.S. Senator from New Mexico
Martin Heinrich, U.S. Senator from New Mexico
Local leaders and community members
Friday, January 24, 2014
3:00 p.m. MST
Ramada Palms Las Cruces – Grand Ballroom
201 E University Ave
Las Cruces, NM 88005
Media interested in attending are encouraged to RSVP here by 6:00 p.m. MST on Thursday, January 23.
NOTE: Doors will open at 2:15 p.m. MST; members of the public will be seated on a first-come, first-serve basis.