LAS CRUCES — The Las Cruces Sun-News is reporting that President Obama will create the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument on Wednesday of this week. The national monument designation is a huge win for New Mexico, Doña Ana County, and the legions of supporters who have worked for years to protect the beloved Organ Mountains and surrounding areas.
From the Las Cruces Sun-News:
President Obama is planning to sign a proclamation Wednesday establishing the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, according to a White House official.
The proclamation is expected follow a bill introduced last December by U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, Both D-NM, in covering about 450,000 acres in southern New Mexico. About half of that land — approximately 350 square miles — likely will be designated a wilderness area, the highest level of protection that can be imposed by Congress.
That includes the Organ Mountains; the Robledo Mountains northwest of Las Cruces, the Doña Ana Mountains north of Las Cruces; the Potrillo Mountains in the southwestern part of the county; and the Sierra de Las Uvas Mountains in the Hatch region.
You may remember that in 2012 ProgressNow New Mexico joined cohorts in Colorado and Nevada in launching 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 joined us in support of a national monument designation for the Organ Mountains area in Doña Ana County and they’ve kept up the local movement.
In March of last year, President Obama created the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, near Taos, using his executive authority under the Antiquities Act. Past presidents have used the Act to create New Mexico’s treasured national monuments which contribute over $54 million in annual tourist spending and which support over 1,000 New Mexico jobs. Now the President is poised to protect more historically, geographically, and culturally significant land in Southern New Mexico. According to the White House’s statement, “A recent independent study found that a new national monument could generate $7.4 million in new economic activity annually from new visitors and business opportunities while preserving access for sportsmen, ranchers, and recreational users.”