President’s Day in the Organ Mountains
President’s Day is one of America’s oldest holidays and has evolved from a being a day that recognized the “father of our country” George Washington, to a day to look back and celebrate the men who’ve led our country through some pretty trying times. For many professionals out there, it’s another Monday holiday to catch up on yard work or start some spring cleaning, or maybe take the kids out to do something fun.
That’s what I did. I took my three-year old daughter on a hike into the northern areas of what would become the Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument.
We had a blast with some of our other members, trekking over some amazing landscapes that I didn’t even know existed. There was a series of slick rock tracks that reminded me of southern Utah and despite the dry weather there was some moisture trapped in the deep pools that were strewn across the ravines. Niomi, my daughter, had so much fun clambering over these smooth stones and playing in the pools, some of which were twice as deep as she is tall.
Besides the fantastic terrain and constant view of the wonderful Mesilla Valley, I was struck also by the “discovery” of some bedrock mortars on a green, lichen covered outcropping right near the trail head. It was easy to envision a half dozen American Indians hunkered down in the summer heat, enjoying the shade on the north side of the rocks, grinding away at those mortars to prepare their foodstuffs for their next meal.
In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt signed what is called the Antiquities Act, which ”gives the President of the United States the authority to, by executive order, restrict the use of particular public land owned by the federal government.” Many Presidents since Roosevelt have used the act to protect some pretty amazing places all over the United States.
While I was out in mountains yesterday, I kept thinking how wonderful a legacy it would be for Mr. Obama if he were to take up the mantel of protecting more public lands and how great it would be for Dona Ana County if that protection was to start right here, with the Organ Mountains and other Desert Peaks areas.
These lands have been a home to so many before us and it would be so wonderful if our current president could do something to protect them for the families of the future.
If you follow this link you can directly contact the White House and tell them how much it would mean to you, to me, to my daughter, and to the whole country, to see more public land protected. Imagine if next President’s Day, we could all say thank you to Mr. Obama by hiking in the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument!
Lucas Herndon is the Executive Director of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks
(This blog is from the Friends of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and was originally posted here.)