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Our national monuments: what we’re working to protect

By June 27, 2017April 29th, 2022Public Lands, Water & Wildlife, Legislature

Here in New Mexico, the spectacular Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks national monuments are important because they celebrate our shared cultural heritage and protect irreplaceable lands and wildlife. Despite this, President Trump signed an executive order attempting to eliminate or shrink parks and monuments that have been protected by our presidents in recent decades, including these New Mexico gems that protect thousands of unique archeological and cultural sites. Twenty-five other monuments under threat span from desert vistas to giant sequoias. This is an attack on our public lands and our shared New Mexican history and heritage.
The Department of the Interior is taking public comments about this order until July 10. These communities have spent decades and even centuries working to protect these lands. Now is the time to show Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke that New Mexicans want our lands and cultural history to remain protected. With your help, we can demonstrate the overwhelming public support for Rio Grande del Norte, Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and all national monuments. Add your voice now.»
Not only is it important to protect these lands, keep them public and celebrate our shared cultural heritage, our national monuments are critical to the economy of rural communities in New Mexico. Tourism injected $6.1 billion into New Mexico’s economy and supported 89,000 jobs in 2014. Tourists have visited the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument from across the world and the area saw a 102% increase in visitation in the last year alone. It couldn’t be clearer – monument status does more than protect the land; it also support local jobs and economies.
Luckily, the majority of our federal delegation is representing the majority of New Mexicans who fully support keeping our public lands protected and open to the public.
Senator Martin Heinrich has criticized the Trump administration’s decision to “review” national monuments, stating:

  • “I think the President has been deeply out of touch on this, and if he were serious about listening to the voices of local communities, he would look at monuments like Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National and Rio Grande del Norte in New Mexico as the gold standard of how you start at the grassroots level”
  • Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Representatives Ben Ray Luján and Michelle Lujan Grisham have worked to defend New Mexico’s national monuments:
    • “Rescinding or shrinking to New Mexico’s national monuments will cause irrevocable harm to our treasured places, would jeopardize the objects and special values that are protected through the Antiquities Act, and impact positive economic growth in local communities… The Rio Grande del Norte and the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monuments, which were designated in 2013 and 2014 respectively, provide outstanding opportunities for recreation, hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, and seeing centuries-old petroglyphs… Each of these activities creates a deeper connection with our state’s rich cultural heritage. We urge you to heed the overwhelming support of New Mexicans to preserve their irreplaceable national monuments as designated under the Antiquities Act.” – Sens. Udall and Heinrich and Reps. Luján and Lujan Grisham wrote in an appeal to Secretary Zinke
    • “For more than a century since Theodore Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act into law, presidents from both political parties have used their authority to protect iconic landscapes and cultural treasures. Places such as the Grand Canyon, Arches, Carlsbad Caverns, Zion, and, more recently, the Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks national monuments in New Mexico were protected for all of us by use of the Antiquities Act. These are places we all treasure and integral parts of who we are as Americans.” – Sen. Heinrich press release to protect Bears Ears

What We’re Working to Protect

Rio Grande del Norte

Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument

  • “The communities in Dona Ana County neighboring the monument have grown steadily since the turn of the century… The increases in population, jobs, personal income, and per capita income mirror other Western counties with national monuments or other protected lands.” – Headwaters Economics (analyzed info from 2001-2015; monument was designated in 2014)
    • From 2001 to 2015, in Dona Ana County: • Population grew by 21% • Real personal income grew by 42% • Jobs grew by 27% • Real per capita income grew by 17%
  • Recreational opportunities in Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument include hiking, camping, and petroglyph exploration

More than 1,300 CVNM members and supporters have already submitted public comment in support of our national monuments. Add your voice too.»