05.19.14

Success! Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument designation announced

The Obama Administration today announced their plans to designate the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in southern New Mexico on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. The addition of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument to the National Conservation Lands protects the crossroads of New Mexican and American history, and is an important step towards honoring our country’s diverse heritage while protecting open space important for hunting and outdoor recreation.

The Conservation Lands Foundation thanks President Obama for responding to the local community to take decisive action to designate the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich demonstrated strong leadership in their efforts to work with the community and the Administration to ensure these lands are protected for future generations.

Crossroads of History

The national monument will include places that chronicle New Mexico’s history including the site of the original US-Mexico border prior to the Gadsden Purchase, training sites for the Apollo Mission, and thousands of ancient archaeological sites with unique prehistoric rock art carved and painted onto the cliffs.

The scenic Organ Mountains offer a spectacular backdrop for amazing cultural destinations within the monument, including the petroglyph-lined canyons of the Sierra de las Uvas Mountains and the sites of numerous well-known western historical figures and events including Billy the Kid, Geronimo, and the Camino Real and Butterfield Stage Coach Trails.

Natural Wonders

The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument is also important for long-term preservation of biological diversity. The monument includes one of the largest relatively undisturbed stretches of Chihuahuan Desert landscape in the Southwest. The presence of springs in the Organ Mountains makes the area critically important to wildlife including golden eagles, hawks and mountain lions. The diversity of vegetation types found in the Sierra de las Uvas Mountains Complex is exceptional.  The Greater Potrillo Mountains also have unparalleled significance to the large local and regional sportsmen community due to the region’s outstanding game populations of quail, mule deer, and javelina.

Local Involvement

The designation comes in response to considerable input and support from the local community, Native American leaders including the All Pueblo Governors Council, the New Mexico and National League of United Latin American Citizens, the New Mexico and Las Cruces Green Chambers of Commerce, local ranchers, sportsmen, faith leaders, archaeologists, historians and numerous local elected leaders.

Economic Benefit

The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument will benefit both the lands and the community. Economic studies show this designation has the potential to add more than $7.4 million in additional annual economic activity and doubling the number of jobs supported by outdoor recreation and tourism industry in the region.

At nearly 500,000 acres, the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument is the largest addition to the National Conservation lands since 2001. Over the course of the past decade, the community has worked with then-Senator Jeff Bingaman and Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich to discuss appropriate boundaries in order to adequately protect the natural and cultural areas important to the community and accommodate other needs. The community has also had the opportunity to discuss the proposal with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell during a well-attended public meeting in January 2014.

Conservation Legacy

As the second national monument established since President Obama’s commitment in his January 2014 State of the Union speech to “use my authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations,” the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks designation will be a major step forward in President Obama’s emerging land conservation legacy.

President Obama’s tenth new national monument will be his largest to date, and the fifth addition to the National Conservation Lands. It also continues the President’s track record of protecting lands that help to tell the story of all Americans, through a diverse and inclusive set of new national monuments.

We applaud President Obama’s outstanding contribution to our nation’s long history of public land protection. We are inspired by, and look forward to the Administration’s continued partnership with local communities to protect the most important of America’s public lands for future generations.