New Na­tional Park in NM!

Catron Courier - - News -

The Or­gan Moun­tains-Desert Peaks in south-cen­tral NM has been pro­claimed a Na­tional Mon­u­ment. The lo­cal -driven ef­fort to bring this about will con­serve, pro­tect, and en­hance some of the pub­lic lands in Doña Ana County.

“To­day is the cul­mi­na­tion of a com­mu­nity-led ef­fort to con­serve, pro­tect, and pro­mote these pub­lic lands, but it’s the begin­ning of a new chap­ter for the busi­nesses that will ben­e­fit from the tourism and recre­ation, and the wildlife that rely on this unique habi­tat,” said Sec­re­tary of the In­te­rior Sally Jewell. “The Or­gan Moun­tains and sur­round­ing Desert Peaks are steeped in cul­ture, his­tory, wildlife and op­por­tu­ni­ties to en­joy the great out­doors— from hunt­ing to hik­ing to gazing at an­cient pet­ro­glyphs and fos­sils.”

The Or­gan Moun­tains-Desert Peaks will join other pop­u­lar na­tional mon­u­ments in New Mex­ico, in­clud­ing Aztec Ru­ins, Ban­dalier, Pet­ro­glyph, Rio Grande del Norte, White Sands and oth­ers. Fol­low­ing the des­ig­na­tion of the Rio Grande del Norte Na­tional Mon­u­ment in March 2013, the BLM re­ported a 40% in­crease in vis­i­tors to the area in less than one year. A re­cent in­de­pen­dent study by BBC Re­search & Con­sult­ing es­ti­mates that the new na­tional mon­u­ment des­ig­na­tion could gen­er­ate $7.4 mil­lion in new eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity an­nu­ally from new vis­i­tors and busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties.

In Jan­uary a meet­ing with se­nior officials at the Bureau of Land Man­age­ment and the U.S. Border Pa­trol un­der­scored the In­te­rior’s con­tin­ued com­mit­ment to co­op­er­ate in pro­vid­ing law en­force­ment and border se­cu­rity in the area. The procla­ma­tion sup­ports the 2006 Me­moran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing be­tween the US De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity, the US De­part­ment of the In­te­rior, and the US De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture re­gard­ing “Co­op­er­a­tive Na­tional Se­cu­rity and Coun­tert­er­ror­ism Ef­forts on Fed­eral Lands along the United States’ Bor­ders.”

The procla­ma­tion also al­lows water­shed restora­tion and small-scale flood pre­ven­tion projects if they are con­sis­tent with the care and man­age­ment of the mon­u­ment’s re­sources.

“The cre­ation of New Mex­ico's Or­gan Moun­tains-Desert Peaks Na­tional Mon­u­ment helps cel­e­brate the na­tion's new­est and most ex­cit­ing con­ser­va­tion sys­tem, the Na- tional Con­ser­va­tion Lands,” BLM Direc­tor Neil Kornze said.

The BLM cur­rently man­ages all of the pub­lic lands within this new na­tional mon­u­ment for a range of mul­ti­ple uses which will con­tinue, in­clud­ing graz­ing, con­ser­va­tion of nat­u­ral and arche­o­log­i­cal re­sources and out­door recre­ation, such as hunt­ing, hik­ing, bik­ing, and camp­ing. Statewide, BLM-New Mex­ico hosted 2.9 mil­lion vis­i­tors at 28 recre­ation sites in fis­cal year 2013. Recre­ation on BLM-man­aged lands and wa­ters in New Mex­ico sup­ported more than 1,900 jobs and con­trib­uted more than $172 mil­lion to the state’s econ­omy in fis­cal year 2012.

The Or­gan Moun­tains pro­vide a spec­tac­u­lar back­drop for Las Cruces, with steep, an­gu­lar rock out­crop­pings rem­i­nis­cent of or­gan pipes ris­ing to nearly 9,000 feet and ex­tend­ing for twenty miles. This high­desert land­scape within the Chi­huahuan Desert con­tains a mul­ti­tude of bi­o­log­i­cal zones— mixed desert shrubs and grass­lands as­cend­ing to piñon and ju­niper wood­lands, and fi­nally to pon­derosa pines.

The area is home to a high di­ver­sity of an­i­mal life, in­clud­ing deer, pronghorn an­te­lope, moun­tain lions, pere­grine fal­cons and other rap­tors, as well as rare plants, some found nowhere else in the world. Hun­dreds of arche­o­log­i­cally and cul­tur­ally sig­nif­i­cant sites are found within the new mon­u­ment, in­clud­ing some Pa­leo-In­dian ar­ti­facts, ex­ten­sive rock art sites and the ru­ins of a ten room pue­blo.

More re­cent his­tory is memo­ri­al­ized with Geron­imo’s Cave, Billy the Kid's Out­law Rock, and sites re­lated to early Span­ish ex­plor­ers. The Or­gan and Doña Ana Moun­tains of­fer mul­ti­ple hik­ing trails, a pop­u­lar camp­ground, as well as op­por­tu­ni­ties for hunt­ing, moun­tain bik­ing, rock climb­ing, and other recre­ation.

On the west side of Las Cruces, the Desert Peaks area con­tains moun­tain ranges and peaks of the Robledo Moun­tains and the Sierra de las Uvas. These land­scapes con­tain mesas and buttes in­ter­spersed with deep canyons and ar­royos. Sig­nif­i­cant cul­tural sites of the Mo­gol­lon, Mim­bres, and Jor­nada cul­tures are lo­cated through­out this re­gion along with more re­cent set­tle­ments, in­clud­ing the But­ter­field Over­land Stage­coach Trail. This area is also home to the un­usual Night-bloom­ing Cereus, with a one-night-ayear bloom.

To the south­west of Las Cruces is the Potrillo Moun­tains Com­plex, char­ac­ter­ized by cin­der cones, vol­canic craters, and basalt lava flows in the open desert land­scape. There too is abun­dant wildlife and sig­nif­i­cant sci­en­tific finds, in­clud­ing an 11,000-year old skele­ton of an ex­tinct ground sloth. Apollo as­tro­nauts trained in a sec­tion of the Potril­los be­cause of its re­sem­blance to a moon­scape.

In­for­ma­tion about the Or­gan Moun­tains-Desert Peaks Na­tional Mon­u­ment can be found at

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