Thank Sens. Heinrich and Udall for their bill to protect Organ Mountains-Desert Peak

Organ Mountain Bar Canyon Ruins

Please join us in thanking our very own U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, who on Thursday, Dec. 12, introduced legislation to permanently protect the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region as a National Monument.

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The steep-sided crevices, canyons and majestic spires of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks host stunning views, great recreation opportunities, archaeological sites and many plants found nowhere else in the world.

This legislation opens the door to permanently protecting the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks from development.

The proposal would protect nearly 500,000 acres as a national monument and over 240,000 acres as wilderness in Southern New Mexico. The monument would be administered by the BLM and includes the designation of eight new wilderness areas encompassing unique desert landscapes in the Organs, Potrillos, Robledos and Sierra de las Uvas.

The people working to protect this unique landmark are amazingly diverse, and the issue unites a broad spectrum of New Mexicans. Local tribal and elected officials, religious and business leaders, veterans, archaeologists, hunters, sportsmen, and hikers have supported the movement to protect the Organ Mountains and surrounding desert peaks.

Sierra Club members and conservation partners have worked to collect thousands of petitions from community members in favor of protecting the iconic mountains. A majority of Doña Ana County residents recognize the recreational as well as cultural and historical significance of the area and many have joined the ongoing campaign seeking monument status.

Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune sees the importance of this effort. In October Brune brought his family to New Mexico to meet supporters and visit the Organ Mountains for a hike at Dripping Springs natural area. The hike provided a great opportunity for conversation and contemplation regarding the benefits of our public lands and a first-hand experience of the wealth of quality recreation available in the areas included in the proposal.

A recent economic study found that a national monument designation would provide a boost to the economy of over $7 million and double the number of jobs supported by outdoor recreation and tourism on public lands in the region.

The monument could ensure permanent protection while also opening the doors to increased access and recreation.

Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks protection enjoys a wide range of support from the community. These rugged and wild mountains are a part of our identity in the Southwest; they are a place one can easily find the roots of our shared history as well as abundant natural beauty worth preserving. This is a great opportunity to add another New Mexican treasure to our national public lands legacy to enjoy now and in the future.

Sierra Club members in the Southern New Mexico Group have identified this campaign as a top priority and formed the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Action Team to work on seeking protection.

This grassroots committee meets monthly to organize hikes, gather petitions, write letters to raise awareness and advocate for the enjoyment and protection of the jagged desert peaks. In December, the group held a holiday gathering and hosted a presentation from the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce on the benefits of a monument designation.