PRESS RELEASE – 2015 Friends Rendezvous Celebrates Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Nat’l Monument, Brings 200 To Las Cruces
Durango, Colo. (March 11, 2015) – Conservation Lands Foundation will host the 2015 “Friends Rendezvous” in Las Cruces, New Mexico from March 13-15, bringing an estimated 200 people to Las Cruces. Total attendance at the Rendezvous is expected to top 250, with most of those traveling to the event from around the West. Conservation Lands Foundation is a non-profit dedicated to the protection, expansion and restoration of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) National Conservation Lands—over 30 million acres of our nation’s most prized public lands, including New Mexico’s Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and Rio Grande del Norte National Monuments, and El Malpais and Fort Stanton-Snowy River Cave National Conservation Areas.
The gathering will be attended by representatives from dozens of “Friends” groups—as well as Bureau of Land Management (BLM) officials and tourism and local elected officials from Las Cruces including county commissioners and city council members. “Friends” groups—including Las Cruces-based Friends of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks—are part of a network of nearly 60 community-based groups that work to protect and restore individual units of the National Conservation Lands. In 2014, with numbers still coming in, just 27 Friends groups accounted for 3,397 volunteers in the field, contributing more than 185,000 hours to the National Conservation Lands.
“A broad coalition of groups in Las Cruces supported protecting our region’s outstanding cultural and historical resources, as well as access for sportsmen and other recreational users,” said Ben Gabriel, Executive Director of Friends of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks. “Now we can highlight these amenities for visitors, too. No one wants to spend all their time in a conference room, and the National Monument is a major reason Las Cruces was chosen as the location for this year’s Friends Rendezvous.”
Prior to the national monument designation, an independent economic study showed that a national monument designation would have a positive impact on Doña Ana County – contributing more than $7.4 million in economic activity each year and doubling the number of jobs supported by outdoor recreation and tourism industry in the region. In September 2014, the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce released new marketing tools to help local businesses promote Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.
About 350 miles to the north in Taos, recent numbers show that the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, designated in March of 2013, increased the town of Taos lodgers’ tax revenue by 21 percent in the second half of 2013, compared with the same time period in 2012. BLM records showed visits to the site had increased by 40% less than a year after Rio Grande del Norte National Monument was designated.1
The gathering will include two service projects on Sunday, March 15, at the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, and later that day, a Community Celebration from 4-7 pm, located at the Alameda House, 526 S. Alameda Blvd., in Las Cruces. The public is invited to the Community Celebration.
1 New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce, http://www.nmwild.org/2014/news/one-year-later-rio-grande-national-monument-boosting-northern-n-m-economy/
The mission of the Conservation Lands Foundation (CLF) is to protect, restore and expand the National Conservation Lands so they will endure from generation to generation. The National Conservation Lands are protected public lands and waterways managed by the Bureau of Land Management that have joined the ranks of our national parks and wildlife refuges as guardians of our nation’s heritage and drivers of the country’s $646 billion outdoor recreation economy. www.conservationlands.org