Group Pushing For National Monument In Southern New Mexico

A group in southern New Mexico is lobbying for a national monument in their area of the state.

A group of congressional Republicans recently asked Interior Secretary Sally Jewell for her list of possible new national monuments, saying in part that "public lands designations should originate in local communities where the concept enjoys broad support from elected officials, stakeholders, and other impacted individuals."

Well, in southern New Mexico there's an organized group of locals who believe they have a landscape that deserves to be a national monument.

The Organ Mountains–Desert Peaks National Monument proposal, which dates to May 1, 2012, would be centered around the Sierra de Los Organos and reflect not only natural beauty but preserve the cultural remnants of "generations of Native Americans from the Jornada Culture and streams of Spanish settlers..."

The land currently is managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and contains eight wilderness study areas.

"The lands are a diverse mix of Chihuahuan desert grasslands, sky island peaks, seasonal streams, rare native cacti, dramatic canyons, and historical remains," reads part of the May 2012 proposal. "Some of the lands in the proposal extend south from Las Cruces and are divided by a major highway named after former New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici. The other portions of the proposal are found northeast and northwest of Las Cruces."

The proposal does note that the congressional representative for the area, Steve Pearce, has opposed creation of the monument. But it adds that there is strong local support for it.

"The (proposed) Organ Mountains–Desert Peaks National Monument lies within New Mexico’s second congressional district. The 2nd seat is currently occupied by congressional Representative Steve Pearce, a Republican from Hobbs, New Mexico. Representative Pearce has shown a tendency to fight conservation efforts on multiple levels and is opposed to Wilderness designation for these lands. Ironically, this district is the same that was once home to Aldo Leopold, the man credited with advocating and successfully lobbying for America’s first Wilderness area—the Gila—during his years working in the Gila National Forest. Despite Congressman Pearce’s views to the contrary, South central New Mexico and Doña Ana County show strong levels of support for landscape scale conservation. Community wishes and work would be fulfilled with National Monument designation for the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Area."

You can read more about the proposed monument, the landscape, the human history, and how its creation would help the local economy, at this site.