Environment New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM– Today, Senators Udall and Heinrich introduced legislation to permanently protect Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks. The “Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks Conservation Act” comes in response to longstanding and widespread local desire to see the area preserved for future generations.
“Environment New Mexico applauds Senators Udall and Heinrich for working to protect one of the most treasured wild areas of our state,” said Sanders Moore, director of Environment New Mexico. “This is great news for the hikers who explore the canyons and peaks of the mountains, and for the wildlife who call this area their home.”
The bill would protect public lands near Las Cruces, designating over 240,000 acres as Wilderness and approximately 500,000 acres as a national monument. It includes eight new Wilderness areas and rewards years of effort by both the lawmakers and the local community to permanently protect this crown jewel of the Southern Rockies. The legislation will help ensure border security, continue to allow hunting and grazing in appropriate and approved areas, and will provide access for various recreation activities throughout the region.
“On behalf of all of our members and volunteers who live, work, and play in these unique areas every day, we are incredibly thankful for our senatorial delegation working so hard to ensure these special places will be protected for future generations to enjoy,” said Lucas Herndon, director of Friends of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks. “These lands will make an incredible addition to the National Conservation Lands and deserve to take a place alongside other national monuments across the country.”
The area is well known for its steep mountain cliffs and diversity of wildlife, including peregrine falcons, pronghorn antelope and mountain lions.
A recent economic study found that a national monument designation would give a $7.4 million boost to the economy and double the number of jobs supported by outdoor recreation and tourism on public lands.
“Whether it’s military families from Fort Bliss or local businesses, we all benefit from protecting the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks. It will be good for families, good for the environment, and good for our economy. We look forward to seeing the area’s rich cultural and natural heritage recognized and preserved as a national monument,” said Camilla Feibelman, director of the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club.
Given the current Congressional climate, the New Mexico Senators and local groups are also calling on President Obama and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to step in if the legislation stalls. As Secretary Jewell recently noted, “some places are too special to develop.” The President can use his authority under the Antiquities Act to safeguard the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks as a national monument.