NM Wild applauds Senators Heinrich and Udall for introducing bill that would protect 500,000 acres in Doña Ana County
LAS CRUCES, NM (December 12, 2013) – The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance (NM Wild) and its 5,000 members applauded U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall for their Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Conservation Act. The legislation would protect 500,000 acres of culturally and ecologically rich Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land in Doña Ana County.
“New Mexico is fortunate to have two senators with such vision and commitment to permanently protecting these very special places,” said Mark Allison, executive director of NM Wild. “The breadth of community support for this legislation is truly inspiring and NM Wild is proud to stand with hunters, faith-based groups, youth organizations, area businesses and our conservation partners to make sure this land secures the protection it deserves. NM Wild and our 5,000 members thank Senators Udall and Heinrich, and stands ready to assist them in any way we can.”
The national monument would include the Organ Mountains, Sierra de las Uvas Mountains Complex, and Greater Potrillo Mountains. Among the wildlife that call this their home are golden eagles, many hawk species, owls, desert mule deer, three quail species, mountain lion, pronghorn, javelina, bobcat, coyote, bats, rock squirrels and other rodents, and numerous other birds.
The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks is not just important for its biological features—it also contains important archaeological, geological, and historical sites. Places like Conklin’s Cave in the Organ Mountains and Shelter Cave in the Robledo Mountains have yielded artifacts dating the area’s human history back more than 8,000 years. Archaic petroglyphs in areas like Providence Cone and parts of the Sierra de Las Uvas are tantalizing signs of likely habitation sites that, if properly and respectfully studied, could open new windows into the movements of ancient cultures that called these areas home.
The national monument is broadly backed by the local community—in a recent survey, more than 80 percent of people said they support the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument proposal.
“On the precipice of permanent protection, the community-supported Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument enjoys exciting momentum because of diverse supporters, creative partnerships and its intersection of natural and cultural landscapes,” said Nathan Small, NM Wild wilderness protection coordinator.
Last year, President Obama used the Antiquities Act to designate the 242,455-acre Rio Grande del Norte in Taos County as a National Monument. After more than seven years of working on the campaign, NM Wild is thankful to former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, congressmen Tom Udall, Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Luján, and President Obama for their work on the permanent protection of Rio Grande del Norte. NM Wild is also hopeful for a similar fate for the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks.
“As we celebrate the introduction of this legislation, we invite Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewel to visit this land and to walk, see and experience it personally,” said Allison. “We’re confident that she’ll immediately understand why these places need to be protected for future generations.”
For more information about the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks campaign, please visit www.organmountains.org.
The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance (NM Wild) is a non-profit 501(C)(3), grassroots, environmental organization dedicated to the protection, restoration, and continued enjoyment of New Mexico’s wildlands and Wilderness areas. The primary goal of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance is to ensure the protection and restoration of all remaining wild lands in New Mexico through administrative designations, federal Wilderness designation, and ongoing stewardship.