These New Mexico national monuments in jeopardy, Río Grande del Norte National and Organ Mountains Desert Peaks provide crucial habitat and wildlife corridors for animal migration. Without these large tracts of intact landscapes, birds and other wildlife would be in serious danger. The Executive Order threatens not only these monuments and our native and cultural heritage, but it will also hurt surrounding communities and small businesses that have come to rely on access to this outdoor recreation haven.
Please take action today by urging the Department of the Interior not to undo or limit America’s national monuments. The comment period runs from May 12th through July 10th.
When writing your comments, please take the time to personalize your comments relating to each of these points.
- Name the specific monument you want to protect. The Trump administration called out two New Mexico National Monuments for this unprecedented reexamination for downsizing or elimination.
- Provide a descriptive sentence or two about the premier places and landmarks within the monument that you bird, hike, tour, view or otherwise revere because of their unique value whether biologic, ecologic, scientific, cultural, historic or visual.
- Describe your participation in the public process to protect these public lands that illustrates the extent, diversity and transparency of public engagement to date that underlies the existing designation.
- Describe how your personal recreation and enjoyment of the national monument contributes to national monument gateway communities through increased purchases at restaurants, hotels, shops and other businesses.
Background Information on the New Mexico Monuments
Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument was established in May 21, 2014. The Organ Mountains in southern New Mexico are not just a spectacular backdrop for the city of Las Cruces. They are an important biodiversity hotspot, hosting plants and animals found nowhere else in the world. This piece of Doña Ana County has long been prized for its rugged landscape, historical and archaeological sites and pockets of solitude, spread across thousands of acres encompassing the Organ, Sierra de las Uvas, Doña Ana and Potrillo Mountain Complexes. The region is considered a crown jewel of the southern Rockies.
Encompassing 496,000 acres, the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument includes the Organ Mountains, the Doña Ana Mountains, the Sierra de las Uvas Mountains Complex, and the Greater Potrillo Mountains. More than 210 species of birds have been recorded in the Organ Mountains, which is more than half the total number of species seen in Doña Ana County. The monument also offers an important opportunity to protect many of Doña Ana County’s most valuable grasslands. Avian conservation species that depend on monument lands for breeding, overwintering or stopover habitat during migration include Bendire’s Thrasher, Scaled Quail, Chestnut-collared Longspurs, White-faced Ibis, Rufous-crowned Sparrow and Gray Vireo.
After years of careful and comprehensive public debate and consideration in Doña Ana County, a broad coalition of Hispanic leaders, veterans, Native Americans, sportsmen, small business owners, faith leaders, conservationists, and local elected officials have worked to preserve, and now protect, the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. Efforts to protect federal public lands in Doña Ana County began in the early 1970s, with community support growing steadily over decades. Legislation to protect the area was first introduced by Republican Senator Pete Domenici in 2005, with subsequent bills introduced until President Obama designated the area as a national monument in 2014 after Congress was unable to move legislation. More than a dozen local government support resolutions passed during this time.
Río Grande del Norte National Monument was established in March 25, 2013. The Río Grande del Norte is at the heart of one of the oldest continually habituated landscapes on the continent. This is an area that is not only stunning, it also has played a role in shaping the cultures for centuries and is an integral part of our state – and economy – today. The proposed wilderness areas within the national monument serve as one of the world’s great avian migratory routes. It is also home to important game species like pronghorn and elk.
Encompassing 242,500 acres, the Río Grande del Norte National Monument includes extinct volcanoes like Ute Mountain, the Río Grande Gorge a national wild and scenic river and designated Important Bird Area, and broad swaths of Pinyon-Juniper woodlands and savanna, and expansive plains of sagebrush. Avian conservation species that depend on monument lands for breeding, overwintering or stopover habitat during migration include Bald Eagle, Pinyon Jay, Virginia’s Warbler and Sage Thrasher.
Upon conclusion of many years of deliberate and all-inclusive public discussion, the Río Grande del Norte National Monument designation came in response to support from local business owners, the Taos County and Mora Valley Chambers of Commerce, sportsmen and ranchers, elected officials at the local, state and national levels, including the Taos County Commission, Town of Taos, City of Santa Fe, Hispano organizations, Native American tribes and nearly the entire New Mexico congressional delegation.
Outdoor recreation alone generates $887 billion, $6.1 billion in New Mexico and is responsible for 68,000 New Mexico jobs totaling $1.7 billion in wages and salaries; and contributes $458 million in state and local tax revenue. And in 2016, National Parks saw a record 331 million visits, contributing almost $35 billion to the U.S. economy. Headwaters Economics has provided two-page summaries with specific economic details for New Mexico national monuments including the Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks.
These national monuments created in the past twenty years have protected vital bird habitat, helped safeguard our heritage, and benefitted communities across New Mexico. Reversing any of these designations would be a tragic mistake with harmful consequences for all that depend on our magnificent public lands. THANK YOU FOR PROTECTING OUR SACRED LAND!