Momentum grows for Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument
The Organ Mountains and Desert Peaks in southern New Mexico are the crossroads of the state’s diverse history and culture. For nearly a decade, the community has worked to safeguard this special place, which seamlessly blends history and culture with the natural beauty that defines southern New Mexico.
That is why Interior Secretary Sally Jewell visited Las Cruces on Jan. 24—and heard firsthand why the community wants to preserve Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks as a national monument.
A few days later, President Obama said in his State of the Union address: “I’ll use my authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations.” We look forward to his action.
The meeting in Las Cruces showed Secretary Jewell the breadth of support for an Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks national monument, which includes military veterans, Hispanic leaders, Native Americans, sportsmen and women, small-business owners, faith leaders, conservationists, and local elected officials.
Momentum for a comprehensive national monument in Doña Ana County has grown steadily in the region. Legislation to protect the area was introduced in the 111th and 112th Congresses. Then, in late 2013, New Mexico Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich (both D) introduced a bill to protect the area as a national monument.
Because of inaction in Congress to protect these public lands, Senators Udall and Heinrich, former New Mexico senator Jeff Bingaman, and a diverse, locally based coalition have asked President Obama to designate the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks national monument by using the Antiquities Act.
An Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks national monument would also protect natural treasures such as the Sierra de Las Uvas Mountains, the Portrillo volcanic field, rare examples of Chihuahuan desert grasslands, and the Sky Islands. It would also safeguard New Mexican and American landmarks along the Camino Real National Historic Trail, the Apollo mission training site at Kilbourne Hole, 22 miles of the Butterfield Stagecoach Trail, Billy the Kid’s Outlaw Rock, thousands of Native American archaeological sites, and the Gadsden Purchase International Boundary.
Please thank Secretary Sally Jewell for visiting Las Cruces to hear why the community wants to protect this area as a national monument.